Rachel Kyte, World Bank: "Paris and Beyond, What Will You Do?"

This year alone, at least 350,000 refugees have fled civil war and terror to seek a better life in Europe. And, according to the Vice President of the World Bank Rachel Kyte, this is a mere harbinger of what the near future holds.

Speaking before a packed auditorium at the London School of Economics last week, the World Bank's envoy for climate change warned:

"There are 60 million people in Bangladesh who will not be able to stay where they are if the sea level continues to rise over the next 10 years. This is a significant problem that has to be dealt with by this generation, by the people in the region, but also by the people of Europe."

Adopting the same line as the IMF, OECD, and the New Climate Economy, Kyte argues that the "cost of climate inaction far exceeds the cost of action."

And, with less than 5 weeks before world leaders gather in Paris to strike a make-or-break deal to pull our planet back from the brink of catastrophic climate change, she asks:

"Are we going to pivot in Paris, or are we simply going to pirouette? What I mean is: will we spin round and round, and end up exactly where we were before? Or, are we going to take this opportunity and set off on a completely new trajectory? The exciting thing for all of us here is that these are extraordinary times."

Kyte says that we are in a far better place than we were five years ago.

In 2010, climate talks in Copenhagen collapsed in bitter acrimony as rich and poor nations clashed over who should make the bulk of the carbon emission cuts.

According to poor countries, it was the developed world who ought to lead as they created the climate crisis, having industrialized well over a century and a half ago.

But, rich nations pushed back, arguing that developing countries like China and India are now responsible for the lion's share of the world's carbon pollution.

Fast forward five years later, and the political landscape has completely changed.

Former foes, the world's two largest economies, the US and China have joined forces to lead the charge against global warming.

America has now vowed to curb its emissions by 32% compared to 2005 levels, whilst China has promised to peak its carbon pollution before 2030. And, both countries have stumped up over 3 billion dollars in climate finance over the past year to help poorer nations to adapt to our rapidly deteriorating climate.

And, last week, the head of both the IMF and the World Bank joined forces with the leaders of Germany, France, Mexico, Chile, the Philippines and Ethopia to call on other countries and companies to put a price on a carbon. Setting a price for each tonne of carbon emitted is widely regarded as a crucial first step on the path away from fossil fuels.

The news came two days after the CEOs of Europe's top oil companies together with those from Saudi Arabia and Mexico called for an "effective" deal at the upcoming Paris summit.

"That's all within a space of a week. We're now in a situation where we have sitting heads of state asking other heads of state to lead on climate, to do what leaders are meant to do. We've never seen this bfore. This is providing a completely different backdrop to Paris than to any climate negotiations that I have seen over the last 20 years" says Kyte.

And, she believes that this is "not just greenwash. I see a seriousness of intent. I see a real realization that we are at an inflection point."

But, the specter of Copenhagen's failure still looms over these talks.

Last week, negotiations in Bonn ran overtime as delegates squabbled over a draft text for the agreement which bloated from 20 to 55 pages. It was a stark reminder of the difficulties that lie ahead.

Many of the poorer nations felt that the initial draft undermines their interests. According to South Africa's delegate, it felt "just like apartheid."

Many of the disagreements in Bonn revolved around old wounds such as money.

And, acording to Kyte, no deal will be struck unless rich nations can assure poorer countries that they will receive the $100 billion a year in climate finance that they were promised five years ago:

"The issue of finance has been a thorn in the process for a very long time, a thorn that has drawn blood and eroded trust. And, the problem that we have is that the developed world must put cash on the table for the developing world as a downpayment for a problem that it has caused them."

But, according to a OECD report published earlier this month, there is already about $62 billion of that $100 billion already flowing, "so the question becomes how do you show that there is a politically credible pathway to get to $100 billion, and do that before Paris?" asks Kyte.

According to South Africa's delegate, the OECD report "has no status in the negotiations. We don't know the methodology they used."

What was once looking like a sure fire deal could potentially slip out of reach.

Moreover, the sum total of the 150 national bids tabled thus far are not enough to limit the warming of our planet to two degrees Celsius. Five years ago, world leaders promised that global warming would not exceed this threshold.

But, according to scientists, our planet is currently on track to warm by more than four degrees Celsius before the turn of the century. A 4C rise will usher in changes not seen since the last Ice Age.

With so much at stake, Kyte is right to asset that:

"There is no room for silly politics anymore. The decision to not do something is the decision that is anti-ethical to what you believe in when you look in the mirror. So, is it acceptable to have political leaders that don't share that value? No. And I think that we're beginning to see in ballot box and ballot box around the world, people are coming to that conclusion."

According to Kyte, the question then becomes: what will you do?

"Whatever it is, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and become part of the greatest transformation we have ever seen in the last 60 years. It's irresponsible of you, with this level of education, to not walk into the room, and demand to be heard."

After all, the future of all life on earth is counting on it.