U.N. chief detects 'sense of anxiety' on climate change

Reuters News
|
Posted: Sep 22, 2014 5:12 PM

By Lisa Anderson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - On the eve of Tuesday's U.N. climate summit, the United Nations chief underscored the urgent need to tackle climate change by moving toward an energy-efficient, low-carbon global economy.

Speaking at the opening of Climate Week NYC, a set of more than 140 climate-related events across the city, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had noticed much more urgency to address climate change than he had seen in previous U.N. gatherings on the issue in 2007 and in 2009, when governments failed at a Copenhagen conference to agree a new binding climate treaty.

"In 2014, people are coming with a sense of anxiety," said Ban, who participated in the People's Climate March that drew more than 310,000 people onto the streets of Manhattan on Sunday.

"More and more people understand that climate change is happening and approaching much faster than one would expect," said Ban.

Those concerns have led 125 prime ministers, presidents or their deputies to say they will attend New York the summit.

"There is no Plan B because there is no Planet B," Ban said, delivering his much-repeated mantra.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who also marched on Sunday, said people ought to "act every day as though every week should be a climate week".

France has been chosen to host key U.N. climate talks in December 2015, where governments are due to agree a new global deal to tackle climate change. Paris is already working to bring nations together in a united effort, Fabius said.

"If we let emissions grow, catastrophic climate change will accelerate," he said. That would mean more droughts, floods, human misery and international security challenges.

"I don't use the term climate change - I think the more accurate term is climate disruption," he added.

In the run-up to the 2015 conference, France is encouraging countries to achieve five goals under which Fabius called the Paris Alliance for Climate.

The goals are: creating a universal legal agreement and monitoring system for reduced carbon emissions; putting forward national commitments to curb emissions by March 2015; agreeing a financial and technology package to help meet pledges and accelerate the transition to clean energy; and securing commitments and initiatives from cities, regions and corporations to deal with climate change.

"I am convinced...that only together can we make the low-carbon economy a reality," Fabius sai.

Asking all nations to stop investing in fossil fuels and start putting more resources into renewable energy, Ban said, "If we cannot all swim together, we will sink."

(Reporting by Lisa Anderson, Editing by Megan Rowling)