By Edmund Smith-Asante
More than 120 world leaders, business owners, city mayors and civil service organisations (CSOs) are expected to converge in New York, USA, on September 23, for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit on the theme, “Catalysing Action”.
It will be preceded by a meeting of African leaders to be led by the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, on September 22 at the start of a climate week which will end on September 28.
The summit is part of efforts by the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, to promote action on commitments made by world leaders to mitigate the effects of climate change.
This was made known at the first media briefing on the event organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC). Present were selected journalists from Ghana, Nigeria and Namibia who were connected to officials at the UN headquarters in New York through a web interaction.
Aim of summit
According to Mr Dan Thomas, Senior Communications Officer for the Secretary-General’s Climate Change team, the summit is not part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating process, but is aimed at catalysing ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience.
He said it was aimed at mobilising political will for an ambitious global climate agreement that would limit the world to less than two degrees celsius rise in global temperature by 2015.
“The idea of the summit is to change the atmosphere around negotiations and give leaders an opportunity to step up the new ambition taken to address climate change,” he added.
Mr Thomas said the summit offered a window of opportunity for a full year before the UNFCCC signing in Paris in 2015 and that it was a great moment for leaders, CSOs and businesses to get together to talk about their ambitions and actions that were already underway.
“Change is in the air; solutions exist. The race is on; true leaders are leading and there is a sense of a race for the top,” he stated, adding that President Barack Obama had already declared his intention to attend the summit.
He said eight action announcements were expected at the end of the summit. Areas to be tackled include agriculture, transportation, energy efficiency, forests, short-lived climate pollutants and cities, among others. The thematic areas are the science of climate change, economic case for climate action, climate health and jobs and voices from the frontline of climate change.
Climate change in Africa
Another speaker at the briefing, Mr Dan Shepard, Public Information Officer at the UN office in New York, said “There is no continent that will be affected more by climate change than Africa.
According to the last report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which came out in March and April this year, Africa is expected to be warm faster than the global average. As the world continues on its present trajectory it would be warm by more than four degrees celsius.”
What it meant, was that dry areas on the continent would become dryer, while wet areas would become wetter and water scarcity would become more acute.
Asked what the involvement of businesses was, he said the phenomenon was now the model for businesses in the future and announcements on measures to cut emissions would be expected from CEOs.
Writer’s email: Edmund.Asante@graphic.com.gh
This was first published by the Daily Graphic on August 25, 2014