Thursday, September 25, 2014

The UN Climate Summit in NYC Gives Us Reason to Hope

Those in attendance at the UN Climate Summit in New York City made significant progress towards the goal of a global climate agreement in 2015. At the end of the Summit, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon summarized the outcome saying "This was a great day!"

The UN Climate Summit was a success simply by virtue of those who attended. There were an unprecedented number of world leaders in attendance, this included 100 government leaders and more than 800 leaders from business, finance and civil society.

Before the summit, Ban asked leaders from government, business, finance and civil society to "crystallize a global vision for low-carbon economic growth and to advance climate action on five fronts: cutting emissions; mobilizing money and markets; pricing carbon; strengthening resilience; and mobilizing new coalitions." The end results suggest that many responded to the UN Secretary General's request.

Optimism is warranted when we review the list of accomplishments compiled by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the end of the climate change summit. From deforestation to cleaner energy initiatives, we are moving forward. The governmental and private climate and energy commitments are unprecedented.

The 2014 climate summit in NYC was different from all the summits that preceded it. This year the goal was clearer, "to raise political momentum for a meaningful universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015 and to galvanize transformative action in all countries to reduce emissions and build resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change."

We achieved so much more in 2014 than we did in 2009. Five years ago we were working simply to build momentum towards a global climate deal. This effort proved fruitless as divisions between nations took center stage. 

Despite progress at the 2014 Summit in New York, serious disagreements remain. We can expect resistance from countries beholden to fossil fuels. This includes nations like Canada and Australia. However, now that President Obama is leading through example, future prospects are looking far brighter than they have in the past.

This summit gives us reason to hope that we may be able to achieve the ambitious goal of a global climate agreement in 2015.

As Ban said, "Today’s Summit has shown that we can rise to the climate challenge."

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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