The 92-year-old TV presenter blamed humans for the "disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years".
"We are in trouble, we are in deep trouble with climate change".
Just last week, the UN's environment program said the voluntary national contributions agreed in Paris would have to triple if the world was to cap global warming below 2C.
Climate negotiators of almost 200 countries will spend the next two weeks in Katowice, a city built on coal mining, for the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Meeting the goals put forth in the Paris agreement would be expected to save more than 1 million lives a year from air pollution alone by 2050, it says.
"If we would've never started in that direction and used other technology, we'd be much better off", the actor and former California governor said Monday at the start of a United Nations climate conference in Poland.
She cited a recent expert report warning of the consequences of letting average global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).
Guterres said in order to achieve that, global emissions from 2010 levels to 2030 must be halved.
"The biggest evil is fossil fuels: it's coal, it's gasoline, it's the natural gas", he told conference delegates.
The remark was also directed at host Poland, which relies on coal for 80 per cent of its energy.
The two-week conference, in Poland's southern coal mining region of Silesia, is expected to work out how governments can report on their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming within the Paris accord limit.
Guterres emphasized the need for strong leadership from various countries.
"It is sad that the federal administration of the United States, a country that is increasingly feeling the full force of climate impacts, continues to refuse to listen to the objective voice of science when it comes to climate change", Figures said.
"We can not afford to fail in Katowice..."
The world is "way off course" in its plan to prevent catastrophic climate change, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday as the Cop24 summit officially opened in Poland.
Also on Monday, Polish President Andrzej Duda presented the Silesian Declaration on Solidarity and Just Transition, a document that calls for a "decent future" for workers affected by the transition away from fossil fuel industries.
Residents of the world's smaller islands, many of whom face catastrophic flooding from higher sea levels in a warming world, have been among the world's most vocal backers of measures to combat climate change.