Climate change presents a choice between sustainable economic growth and turmoil, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told business leaders today, stressing that failure to ‘seal the deal’ on an ambitious new agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions is not an option.
Negotiations are set to conclude in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December on a new climate agreement to go into effect when the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012.
“An agreement in Copenhagen will help to fundamentally transform the global economy. It can spur innovation, unleash investments on an unprecedented scale and power green growth across the planet,” Mr. Ban said at the UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change, organized jointly by the UN Global Compact and other members of the UN family.
The lunchtime event was attended by dozens of heads of State and government, as well as nearly 200 leaders of business and civil society organizations, including Cisco Systems, Deutsche Bank, and Oxfam International.
Many of these leaders have already made strides in the fight against climate change, the Secretary-General said in his remarks. “They understand, you understand, that the short-term cost of action is far outweighed by the long-term price of inaction,” as well as boosting global competitiveness and prosperity.
Although the road ahead is complex, he highlighted that the choice is clear. “It is a choice between sustainable growth, a choice between inclusive global markets and trade anarchy, a choice between a healthy planet and environmental catastrophe.”
The forum also heard from, among others, former United States Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore.
Participants engaged in interactive discussion sessions on mitigating and adapting to climate change, focusing on such areas as food security, energy solutions, water, financing and disaster preparedness.
Also taking place today at UN Headquarters is the largest-ever gathering of world leaders on climate change. Convened by the Secretary-General, it has drawn some 100 heads of State and government to engage in direct discussions in small groups, each co-chaired by a leader from a developing and developed country, with the aim of finding a common understanding on a path forward.
At the end of the day-long summit, this understanding will be captured in a summary presented by Mr. Ban.
Later in the day at the annual Appeal of Conscience Foundation Awards Dinner, Mr. Ban stressed that, in addition to climate change, there are a range of issues requiring global attention.
“This is a critical moment for the international community, requiring decisive movement on many fronts and a renewed multilateralism that delivers for real people in real time,” he stated.