Global Education

World leaders meet at United Nations to discuss global climate change

By Justin Quinn
Published: September 2009

Negotiations for a global climate change treaty went underway when about 100 world leaders met at United Nations in New York on September 22.

Leaders convened to voice support for a new, world-wide pact to fight climate change, which will be negotiated further during a December conference in Copenhagen.

President Obama addressed the United Nations for the first time and gave his full support to the cause, stressing the critical need for improvement. “The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out, Obama said.

Although still waiting for Congress to pass legislation with a national plan, Obama cited a goal of returning to 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020.

Obama wasn’t the only major leader speaking. Chinese President Hu Jintao outlined a plan for China to build forests, further develop alternative energy sources, and cut greenhouse gases.

“We will endeavor to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level. Second, we will vigorously develop renewable energy and nuclear energy. We will endeavor to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15 percent by 2020, said Hu said.

It was made clear that change is essential. Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives islands, stated that if something serious isn’t done, his country will not exist because of the rising sea levels caused by the climate change.

“The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.
- President Obama

Heat waves, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers are just some of the foreseeable problems caused by global climate change. “The science leaves us with no room for inaction now, Chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Rajendra Pachauri said.

Even political figures who did not attend the meeting agreed that something must be done. Former President of Cuba Fidel Castro praised Obama for taking a stand for a change, even though their political views differ.
“It was, without doubt, a brave gesture. No other (U.S. president) would have had the courage to say what he said, said Castro.

A new report by the United Nations Environment Program released just two days after the conference give a grim synopsis of the situation. It stated that even with the proposed pledges from the various countries, the researchers predict that the temperature of the planet will rise about 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit and the oceans rising up to six feet by 2100.

“With every day that passes the underlying trends that science has provided is…of such a dramatic nature that shying away from a major agreement in Copenhagen will probably be unforgivable, if you look back in history at this moment, Achim Steiner, the executive director of UNEP said.

Unity is a key factor in cutting down on global climate change. “We cannot allow the old divisions that have characterized the climate debate for so many years to block our progress.

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