2014 UN Climate Summit: Is it Time for a Change?

The Climate Summit is an annual get-together of government leaders, heads of the private sector, environmental organizations and civil society, upon the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The purpose of this meeting is to unite the world towards one goal – lower our carbon emission. It is meant to address a pressing concern… Climate Change.

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TheWorldCounts, 19 October, 2014

The Climate Summit is an annual get-together of government leaders, heads of the private sector, environmental organizations and civil society, upon the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The purpose of this meeting is to unite the world towards one goal – lower our carbon emission. It is meant to address a pressing concern… Climate Change.

This year’s Climate Summit happened last September 23, 2014 in New York City. It is a venue that offers a unique opportunity for leaders to gather political will towards an ambitious vision. Climate change is not something that is threatening us… it is here. It is affecting the lives of people and disrupting economies now and promises to worsen in the future, unless the world comes together and makes a significant change.

More: Information about Global Warming

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations, which is the most authoritative body on climate change, the only way to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2050 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70%.

A Small Step in the Right Direction

A feeling of hope and change pervaded the Summit, with several heartfelt pleas from victims of national disasters. More than 100 leaders across the globe attended, but many countries were still not represented. Of those who were there, many pledged support, some were non-committal and silent.

Global leaders acknowledged the reality of climate change in their speeches. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Food - It is expected that we will reach the 9 billion mark in 25 years, with food demand increasing by 60% in 2050. During the summit, more than 20 governments and 30 organizations and companies pledged that they will join the newly launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture which is geared towards educating farmers worldwide on climate-friendly agricultural processes.
  • Leaders committed to finalize a universal new agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Paris on 2015. They aim to arrive at the first draft by December of 2014.
  • European Union countries pledged to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • 40 countries, 30 cities and dozens of companies launched a large-scale commitment to increase energy efficiency by double through vehicle fuel efficiency, energy-saving appliances and energy conservation on lighting, building and district consumption.
  • 24 leading producers of Palm Oil and commodities traders committed to a target goal of zero deforestation by 2020 and agreed to work with governments, private sectors and indigenous people for a more sustainable supply chain.
  • The New York Declaration on Forests which was launched and supported by more than 32 governments, 20 subnational governments, 150 partners, 16 indigenous people groups and 49 NGO and civil society groups, targets a 50% decrease in the loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and end deforestation by 2030.

More: How Can We Stop Deforestation?

  • Green Climate Fund – a total of $1.3 billion in pledges were announced by Denmark, South Korea, Norway, Mexico, France and 3 smaller nations. The large group of developed countries such as the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Canada and others, has yet to commit.
  • China has acknowledged that extreme weather has cost the country 200 billion Renminbi per year. The climate impact along with their air pollution problem is affecting water, land and people. All of these are forcing China to take immediate actions to prevent further global warming.
  • Business – 73 countries and more than 1,000 businesses including Statoil, signed a World Bank initiative to encourage governments to set a price on carbon. 25 of those companies including Philips and Unilever, committed to pricing carbon internally and increasing efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. ** Putting a price on carbon provides an economic incentive for activities that have a low carbon footprint.

More: How to Reduce our Ecological Footprint

Read more about the recently concluded Climate Summit 2014 here

Sadly, although this summit proved to be more fruitful than in previous years, not all countries were committed to the summit’s goal. Some like India preferred to be quiet and the MENA region was non-committal and disinterested. However, we must take what we can and hope that the rest of the world comes to their senses.

To know more about our environmental challenges, browse The World Counts: Stories. See how you can make a difference on your end.

References

  1. Leaders at UN summit take steps to ensure food security for 9 billion people by 2050
  2. 2014 Climate Change Summary – Chair’s Summary

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