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UN Calls on World Leaders to Act on Climate Change

Updated on October 31, 2009
Swollen rivers are becoming common due to climate change
Swollen rivers are becoming common due to climate change
The extinction of various species of wildlife signals danger
The extinction of various species of wildlife signals danger
Crocodiles survived millions of years but are now nearly extinct in many parts of the world.
Crocodiles survived millions of years but are now nearly extinct in many parts of the world.

By Edwin C. Mercurio

World leaders gathered in NewYork City for the Global Summit on Climate Change on September 22 in a United Nations-initiated effort to mobilize political will and strengthen momentum for a fair, effective, and ambitious climate deal in Copenhagen this December. The Summit attended by nearly 100 world leaders marked the first UN visit by the Presidents of the United States, China and the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon exhorted the world leaders to act on the pressing global issue of Climate Change. “Failure to reach broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise. Now is the moment to act in common cause. Climate change is a defining challenge of our time,” he said.

World leaders spoke about the need to address global Climate Change at this week’s UN Summit but it was China who took “a vivid example of eastern leadership,” the Toronto Star reports. China’s President Hu Jintao told the Summit of nearly100 world leaders that his country would voluntarily deliver a four-part package of near-term carbon cutting commitments, including the planting of 40 million hectares of emission absorbing forest.”At stake in the fight against climate change are the common interests of the entire world,” Hu stated.

Japan, also, announced deeper emission-reduction targets and plans to pass renewable energy laws. India, also, signalled its intention to invest in wind and solar projects.

US President Obama told the UN gathering that “No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of Climate Change. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples – our prosperity, our health and our safety – are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper was reported to have skipped most of the proceedings. Harper, however, attended the leaders’ dinner and was quoted by news reports as saying “Canada will march along U.S. policy.”

Reuters 2007 preliminary data list of the globe’s top ten emitters of fossil-fuel carbon dioxide in billions of tonnes include the following countries:

China – 1.802; US -1.586; Russia- 0.432 ;India -0.43 ;Japan –0.337; Germany - 0.210; Canada -0.145; Britain - 0.145;S.Korea - 0.13; .Iran -0.13.

Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Chairman and IPCC Director General, in his address to the Summit said that “avoiding the impacts of climate change through mitigation of emissions would provide incalculable benefits including economic expansion and employment. If those in this August gathering do not act on time, all of us would become leaders and citizens of failed states, because we would be failing in our sacred duty to protect this planet on which we all live. Science leaves us with no choice for inaction now.”

The IPCC chair said “If we take no action to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, then average temperature by the end of this century would increase anywhere from 1.1 degrees to 6.4 degrees C, with a best estimate at the lower end of 1.8 degrees and at the upper end of 4 degrees C. The world is increasing its emissions at a rate that may take us to the upper end of the range projected, which implies a total increase in these two centuries of over 7 degrees C, that is, over 12 degrees Fahrenheit.” Between 1970 and 2004 global GHG emissions increased by 70% and carbon dioxide by 80%. "We must halt this unacceptable trend."

The IPCC official adds that “Climate change, in the absence of mitigation policies would in all likelihood lead to:

*Possible disappearance of sea ice by the latter part of the 21st century. *Increase in frequency of hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation. *Increase in tropical cyclone intensity. *Decrease in water resources due to climate change in many semi-arid areas, such as the Mediterranean Basin, western United States, southern Africa and north-eastern Brazil. *Possible elimination of the Greenland ice sheet and a resulting contribution to sea level rise of about 7 metres. Without mitigation future temperatures in Greenland would compare with levels estimated for 125,000 years ago when paleo climate information suggests 4 to 6 m of sea level rise. *Approximately 20 to 30% of species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average warming exceed 1.5 to 2.5.”

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