HUMANITY is at a crucial crossroads, delegates at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow have been told.

At the formal opening of the conference, Patricia Espinosa, UN climate chief, told delegates that humankind was at a “pivotal point in history”.

The message was wholeheartedly endorsed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said she "couldn't agree more".

The summit kicks off this weekend before world leaders attend the summit for an official opening ceremony on Monday.

Speaking to delegates earlier, Epinosa warned: “Humanity faces stark but clear choices. We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of limiting emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.”

She said people can either choose to boost adaptation efforts to deal with weather disasters and build future resilience, or “accept that more people will die, more families will suffer and more economic harm will follow”.

Posting on social media, Sturgeon replied: "Couldn’t agree more. @PEspinosaC setting out the stark reality for world leaders gathering in Glasgow for #COP26 – act now with the urgency and ambition required to limit global warming to 1.5C, or accept a bleak future for life on our planet."

The UK Government’s COP26 president, Alok Sharma told the formal opening session that this is the last, best chance to keep temperature limits to 1.5C.

The Tory MP said he believed the conference could launch a decade of ever-increasing ambition and action However, he warned countries gathered for the talks, which aim to prevent dangerous temperature rises, that they would succeed or fail as one.

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Sharma told delegates: “The rapidly-changing climate is sounding an alarm to the world to step up on adaptation, to address loss and damage, and to act now to keep 1.5 alive.

“We know that this Cop, Cop26, is our last, best hope to keep 1.5C in reach.”

He warned the window to keeping temperatures to 1.5C – beyond which scientists warn the most dangerous impacts of climate change, rising seas and extreme weather will be felt – was closing.

Pointing to devastating impacts around the world, including droughts, heatwaves, hurricanes and floods, the Tory MP said: “We know our shared planet is changing for the worse and we can only address that together through this international system.”

Sharma told countries that six years ago, they had agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperatures to 1.5C under the Paris Agreement.

He said he believed that the conference could resolve the outstanding issues that need to be agreed to implement the Paris deal, “move the negotiations forward and launch a decade of ever-increasing ambition and action”.

“Together we can seize the enormous opportunities for green growth for good, green jobs for cheaper, cleaner power.

“We need to hit the ground running to develop the solutions that we need. And that work starts today – and we succeed or fail as one.”

Concluding his speech, Sharma said: “If we act now, and we act together, we can protect our precious planet.

“So, let’s come together in these two weeks and ensure that where Paris promised, Glasgow delivers.”