High hopes for UN climate summit

Ban ki MoonIn less than a fortnight the United Nations will host Climate Summit 2014 – a signature diplomatic initiative on which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has pinned his hopes for bold announcements and actions that will curb greenhouse gas emissions and save the very world we live in.

The one-day summit in New York September 23 will consist of an opening ceremony, announcements and comments by various Heads of State and Governments and members of the private sector.

Ban has invited world leaders and leading figures in finance, business, and civil society to spur and concretise climate action.

“I have invited leaders from governments, cities, business, finance and civil society to showcase what they are doing to promote the transformative change we know we need. The world needs to see what countries are already doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the UN chief said in a statement.

The summit provides an opportunity for leaders to put their weight behind measures to ensure that a meaningful legal agreement is reached in the all-important climate summit in Paris 2015.

New initiatives to address ecological degradation are also likely to be addressed by partnerships between governments, businesses and civil society organisations.

Ahead of the Summit, Ban wrote in a blog for The Huffington Post, “I have travelled the world to see the impacts (of climate change) for myself, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from the low-lying islands of the Pacific threatened by rising seas to the retreating glaciers of Greenland, the Andes and the Alps. I have seen encroaching deserts in Mongolia and the Sahel and endangered rain forests in Brazil. Everywhere I have talked with people on the front lines who are deeply concerned about the threat of climate change to their way of life and their future.”

According to a March 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, headed by Indian Nobel laureate Rajendra Pachauri, if the world does not change its course it will exceed the two degree Celsius (3.6°F) rise in temperature limit that countries have set to ensure that the world would not suffer the worst impacts of climate change.

“I hope these facts will – for want of a better word – jolt people into action,” said Pachauri.

Climate change was affecting crop yields, especially for wheat and maize, reported IPCC. It also found that climate change was a driver of violent conflicts and migration, and was exacerbating inequality, making it harder for people to move out of poverty.

The report also provides a number of avenues and opportunities to secure the world’s future. It recommends that critical areas such as energy, agriculture, cities, forests, can be built in ways that sustainable ecologically as well as economically.

“Time is running out. The more we delay, the more we will pay,” wrote Ban, adding, “Climate change is not just an issue for the future, it is an urgent issue for today. Instead of asking if we can afford to act, we should be asking what is stopping us, who is stopping us, and why?”

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