Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Climate Summit: ‘All hands on deck’ declares Ban Ki Moon

UN Climate Summit 2014:

 ‘All hands on deck’ declares Ban, calling for leadership, concrete action

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN News center says, 
We are not here to talk, we are here to make history, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today told world leaders at an “unprecedented and important gathering” that aims to raise ambition, mobilize resources, and generate action towards a universal climate deal.

“The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable,” Mr. Ban told the opening ceremony of his much-anticipated Climate Summit in the General Assembly Hall. “We need a clear shared vision.”

Many of the more than 120 Heads of States and Government, business, finance and civil society representatives are today expected to announce commitments that will reduce emissions, enhance resistance to climate change and mobilize financing for climate action.latest news updates

“I am asking you to lead,” Mr. Ban told them. “We must cut emissions. Science says they must peak by 2020 and decline sharply thereafter. By the end of this century we must be carbon neutral.”

Underscoring the importance of climate change as the defining issue of our age, Mr. Ban noted that the international community’s response today will define the future.

He noted that UN Headquarters, which was heavily impacted by Super Storm Sandy, will be carbon neutral by 2020.

“To ride this storm we need all hands on deck,” the top United Nations official summed. “Today we must set the world on a new course.”

Over the course of the day, participants will announce national action and ambition plans, and take part in thematic discussions on topics ranging from climate science to climate, health and jobs.

The UN also hopes to raise at least $10-15 billion during the Summit for the flagship Green Climate Fund created to support developing countries on their path to low-emission and climate resilient development.latest news updates

Speaking to journalists later in the day, Mr. Ban recalled walking in the People’s March on Sunday with more than 300,000 people concerned about climate change.

“They asked me to bring their voices into the halls of the United Nations,” he said in reference to a box he was given with 2 million signatures.

“That is what I have done. Our duty now is to listen,” he added in a press conference alongside President François Hollande of France and Peru’s President Ollanta Humala.

Mr. Ban highlighted some of the announcements being made at today’s Summit.

They include a Mayor’s Compact, signed by more than 200 mayors representing 400 million people, to reduce annual emissions by between 12.4 and 16.4 per cent.

The UN chief also noted some announcements by some of the world’s largest and most well-known companies to adapt their supply chains to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change, as well as assist 500 million farmers in the process.

Among other announcements, oil and gas companies are to pledge efforts to curb the release of methane gas, and some of the largest financial institutions will shift more than 200 billion dollars toward building low-carbon economies by 2015.latest news updates
The oilsands in Fort McMurray, Alta. U.S.
The oilsands in Fort McMurray, Alta. U.S.
According to The Hill TImes online  reports on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, The news on climate change keeps getting worse, yet Canada continues to keep its head buried in the oilsands. There is now no hope of meeting our international commitment to lower annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 by 17 per cent below the 2005 level. In fact, the Harper government has never even tried to keep its promise. But we have to be much more aggressive, and soon.

A draft of the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns the world is already seeing harmful impacts on food production, devastating heat waves, rising sea levels, extreme weather with floods in some regions, drought in others, and the prospect that all of this will get much worse unless we act with a sense of urgency.

 The World Meteorological Organization reports that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached a record high last year, largely due to manmade greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest year over year increase in three decades. The weather is become more extreme due to human activity, such as the burning of coal and oil, the UN agency has warned.
In Canada, the recent report from Natural Resources Canada—Canada in a Changing Climate—also warns of the increasing urgency in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, observing that the negative impacts of climate change are already impacting the country.
 
The growing risks to human well-being have led UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to host a summit in New York on Sept. 23 to address the climate challenge and energize world leaders for the critical negotiations for a new climate treaty in December of next year. If the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, the rise in the average world temperature must be held to 2 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial age. So far, the temperature has risen 0.8 degrees Celsius.

 U.S. President Barack Obama is attending the UN summit but Prime Minister Stephen Harper will skip the event. While Obama wants to act on climate change, despite a hostile Congress, Harper doesn’t, despite his Parliamentary majority.latest news updates
Yet we face an election next year where climate has to be one of the top issues—we will be electing a government for the next five years, to govern to late 2020, and the need to act on climate will be even greater. Whoever forms the government will have to go to Paris in December next year with a Canadian action plan in hand.
 
Of the three political parties, the NDP has shown the most leadership on climate change, promising a cap-and-trade system which, while not as effective as a carbon tax, at least represents an improvement over today’s do-nothing policy of the Conservatives. For their part, the Liberals have no policy, simplistically stating that they want to have “a mature conversation” with Canadians.
 
The Conservative priority is rapid development of the oilsands for domestic and export markets and Harper frequently makes it clear that he will oppose anything that affects jobs in the oil patch, effectively ruling out serious action.

 NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has stressed the importance of carbon pricing, arguing government has to ensure that “the polluters pay for the pollution they create instead of leaving these costs to the next generation.” Greenhouse gas emissions are a form of pollution, which, if left unabated, threatens human life on this planet.
 
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau appears to have no clear idea of what to do about climate change. In June, he attacked the Harper government for its failure to act, declaring the Liberals were “committed to responsible resource development, while promoting clean energy and reducing carbon emissions.” But what does this mean?
 
Trudeau favours the Keystone pipeline and is holding the door open for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which will lead to significant growth in carbon emissions, as he tries for Liberal seats in Alberta. The Harper government has given conditional approval to the Northern Gateway pipeline as well, which would also add to our greenhouse gas emissions. latest news updates

In a recent interview with Maclean’s magazine’s Paul Wells, Trudeau dropped earlier Liberal policy advocating a carbon tax, arguing that it was “politically toxic.” Asked what he would do, Trudeau waffled, only saying he wanted “to have a mature conversation about what is the best way to do it.” Trudeau didn’t say how this “mature conversation” was to take place.

The leadership on climate change in Canada so far has come from three provinces—Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. But in the recent gathering of provincial premiers, agreement was reached among all provinces for a revised national energy strategy that included a commitment to act on climate change, though how remains unspecified. Quebec’s new premier, Philippe Couillard, plans a climate summit next spring.

In the meantime, an encouraging new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and the Environment contradicts Harper’s oft-stated claim that climate actions such as a carbon tax are “job killers” by showing that action to deal with climate change can be pro-growth. The world is expected to spend about U.S.$90-trillion on new power plants, public transit and other infrastructure over the next 15 years. By adding on another five per cent, or roughly $4-trillion, the world could embrace green infrastructure and greater energy efficiency, the commission said.  There would be side benefits as well, including improved human health and savings on fuel expenditures.

What applies to the global economy could apply in Canada as well. As HSBC, the global banking giant, says in a new commentary, “implementing smart climate policies could result in GDP growth.”

Leadership is about dealing with needed change, recognizing there will be both costs and gains. On that score, Harper has so far failed, Mulcair at least has the outlines of a plan though it needs more flesh, and Trudeau is waffling. We need better and the coming election is the time to put the politicians to the test.


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