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Arctic temperatures are now "locked in" for increased wintertime warming, with winter temperatures set to rise 3-5 degrees C by 2050 even if the world meets the goals set out in the Paris agreement, a new UN Environment report says.

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Rainbow Mountains in Vinicuna, Perú. Megan Lough / UI International Programs / CC BY-ND 2.0

December 11 is International Mountain Day, an annual occasion designated by the United Nations to celebrate Earth's precious mountains.

Mountains aren't just a sight to behold—they cover 22 percent of the planet's land surface and provide habitat for plants, animals and about 1 billion human beings. The vital landforms also supply critical resources such as fresh water, food and even renewable energy.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

2018 is set to be the fourth warmest year on record. @WMO / Twitter

2018 will likely be the fourth hottest year on record, according to the United Nations' authoritative voice for weather and climate. The three years that were warmer? 2016, 2015 and 2017.

Furthermore, the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Thursday in its 2018 State of the Climate report.

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The United Nations issued a wake-up call to world leaders on Tuesday for urgent climate action.

Despite national pledges to curb planet-warming emissions, the current pace of government action is "insufficient" to limit global warming to well below 2 C this century, much less the more ambitious 1.5 C target, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) determined in its 2018 Emissions Gap Report.

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The annual United Nations climate talks, aka COP24, will be held in Katowice, Poland. @UNFCCC / Twitter

Next week, heads of state and representatives from roughly 200 countries will descend in Katowice, Poland for the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, informally known as COP24.

Here are some things to know ahead of the critical summit:

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By Warren Sanderson, Sergei Scherbov and Simone Ghislandi

Every year, the United Nations releases the Human Development Index (HDI).

The HDI is like a country's report card. In a single number, it tells policymakers and citizens how well a country is doing. This year, Norway was at the top of the class, while Niger finished last.

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A view of Earth's atmosphere from space. NASA

After decades of thinning, Earth's ozone layer is slowing recovering, the United Nations (UN) said in a report released Monday, highlighting how international co-operation can help tackle major environmental issues.

The ozone layer, which protects humans and other species from the sun's highly hazardous ultraviolet radiation, has been declining since the 1970s due to the effect of chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar gases found in refrigerants and aerosol spray cans.

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On World Food Day, observed every year on Oct. 16, we can all do our part to combat global hunger and malnutrition.

The United Nations' second Sustainable Development Goal calls for ending world hunger by 2030 and urges profound interventions from governments, businesses and individuals to help feed the growing number of hungry people in the world.

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Donald Trump speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 23. Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

President Donald Trump cast skepticism about the landmark report from the United Nations' scientific panel on how the world has just over a decade to limit catastrophic global warming.

"It was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren't so good," Trump told reporters on Tuesday from the South Lawn at the White House.

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Aerial Photos of flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. S.C. Air National Guard

The United Nations' 48th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) opened its crucial meeting in Incheon, South Korea on Monday to deliver the authoritative, scientific guide for governments to stave off disastrous climate change.

"This is one of the most important meetings in the IPCC's history," chair Hoesung Lee of South Korea said in his opening remarks.

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Musicians, artists and activists lended their unique voices to the issue of climate change at the Pathway To Paris concerts at The Masonic in San Francisco and the ACE Theatre in Los Angeles over the weekend, a closing act of the Global Climate Action Summit in California.

This year's concerts, a collaboration with 350.org and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), featured legendary punk rocker Patti Smith, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, hip-hop artist Talib Kweli, artists Olafur Eliasson and Steven Sebring, 350.org founder Bill McKibben and many other high-profile guests and environmental activists.

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