UN Climate Summit: Progress or a Load of Hot Air?

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The world leaders pledge tougher climate commitments at UN climate summit but progress remains to be seen.

The United Nations climate summit drew to a close on Tuesday with Ban Ki-Moon calling for a “meaningful universal climate agreement” for the 2015 UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris.

Yet, as all 125 world leaders were concordant in stepping up their “bold” commitments, there were still faint chinks in the climate chain that predict a fate similar to the lacking promises of the Green Climate Fund.

The United States were the only nation to bring new policy announcements to the table, with Obama emphasising his commitment by agreeing to facilitate the sharing of US climate tools and technologies with developing countries to bolster their climate efforts.

There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”

Oxfam America’s climate policy manager, Heather Coleman, welcomed the good intentions but warned that much more needed to be done to achieve necessary progress.

Not Revolutionary”

It’s a good step, but it’s not revolutionary.”

China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, committed to cut their carbon intensity from 40 to 45 percent of 2005 levels by 2020.

However, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli’s pledges did not stretch further than a $6m financial contribution to the United Nations to advance south-south cooperation on climate change.

President of the European Commission, José Barroso unveiled the EU’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas-emissions 40% 1990 levels by 2020.

He voiced this as opportunity for economies to reinvent themselves in a “cleaner, greener and leaner” way, pledging to commit to the goal of relying 27% on renewable energy for power.

Moral Responsibility

Despite commitments from many of the world’s most advanced countries to assist developing nations, Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed that the “developing countries continue to suffer the most.”

India’s Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, called on the US and other leading nations to bear the brunt of climate responsibility saying that “the moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away.”

If actions speak louder than words, the absence of many of the world’s heads of state from the crucial post summit dialogue session will be likely to resonate further than any of the promises on their carefully crafted speeches.  

Former climate minister and green advisor to David Cameron, Greg Baker, condemned their actions, criticising Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and US President Obama’s absence from what should have been a ‘pivotal’ moment.

We will never get a deal on climate change if leaders don’t turn up.”

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