Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today extended an invitation to heads of State and government to attend an “unprecedented” global summit at the United Nations to spur action towards reaching an ambitious climate change pact later this year.
“Climate change is the greatest challenge facing this and future generations,” he said at a press conference in New York. “Emissions are rising and the clock is ticking.”
The high-level meeting will be held at UN Headquarters on 22 September, just over two months before the start of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where countries are expected to wrap up negotiations on an agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
The Secretary-General today called on all world leaders to take part in the event and “make their commitment and give clear instructions to [their] negotiators on climate change.”
Citing the top scientists, he stressed that there are fewer than 10 years left to stop rising emissions in order to avoid “catastrophic” problems. “Now is the time for action,” he emphasized.
The UN can raise awareness of the issue of global warming, but ultimately, Mr. Ban said, it is the world’s parliaments, presidents, prime ministers, governors and mayors who must take bold measures to tackle climate change.
To date, their response has been “less than sufficient,” he said, voicing hope that cooperation will allow them to “seal the deal” on the new climate pact, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
Climate change negotiations, the Secretary-General said in response to a reporter’s questions, “should be led by the industrialized countries in view of their historical responsibilities,” with developed nations providing financial and technical support to help vulnerable countries cope with the impact of global warming.
The summit will occur on the eve of the start of the General Assembly’s high-level debate. It will also take place during Climate Week NYC, an initiative to last from 21-25 September, unveiled today at the same press conference by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Our city will be honoured not only to host the General Assembly, but to enthusiastically support the summit on climate change,” Mr. Bloomberg said, adding that Climate Week NYC will highlight local actions taken by New Yorkers to address the issue.
Initiatives taken by the city to combat climate change include committing nearly $200 million to retrofit public buildings in an energy-efficient manner and using $200 million of federal stimulus funds to make public housing more environmentally-friendly.