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The issue of climate change skyrocketed in public awareness this week as the UN Climate Summit yesterday in New York City, and the historic People’s Climate March Sunday joined by 400,000 people, attracted attention and news coverage around the world.
The UN Climate Summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who invited world leaders from government, finance, business and civil society “to galvanize and catalyze climate action.” The event was not intended to strike binding agreements but to build momentum for the December 2015 UN climate conference in Paris.
“The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable,” Ban said at the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Summit. “We need a clear shared vision.”
Ban asked the hundreds of attending leaders to bring announcements of proposed actions to “reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.”
“To ride this storm we need all hands on deck. Today we must set the world on a new course.”
“The summit delivered,” said Ban at the end of the day.
Following the opening ceremony, where New York Mayor Bill De Blasio welcomed the visitors to his city and reiterated his city’s intention to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 which he announced a few days earlier, leaders from global nations delivered their statements. His city was among 200 around the world, representing 400 million people, who signed the Compact of Mayors pledging to accelerate their efforts to combat pollution.
Of course, all eyes and ears were on President Obama, since the U.S. is one of Earth’s largest contributors to climate change-causing emissions and therefore in a position to do more to address the problem than most countries.