Ahead of NY Summit grassroots movements and experts ask leaders to act on climate

Hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday (Sept, 21) marched in cities and towns around the world asking global leaders gathered in NY for a special UN climate Summit to provide “action, not words” to address climate change.

The United Nations is holding an informal conference, promoted by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, aimed at “raise political will and mobilize action, thereby generating momentum toward a successful outcome of the negotiations”.

Given the presence of government leaders gathering for the summit, the main mobilization in what was named as “the largest march for climate in history” took place in New York City, with over 300,000 demonstrators, and just as many participated to other 2800 events organized in 166 countries, according to the organizers. Several organizations, such as 350.org, Avaaz, Global Power Shift, joined the initiative that brought together different global and local campaigns: labor unions, environmental organizations, social justice groups, indigenous and migrant communities, students, people of faith. The “Climate March” gained support also among public figures and politicians, such as the UN Secretary General itself and the UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres who joined the march in New York.

Several initiatives are planned also following the UN meeting on Tuesday (Sept, 23), as the city will host the 6th Climate Week NYC, running from 22 to 28 September and promoted by non-profits The Climate Group and CDP.

Calls for urgent and effective action to reduce GHG emissions and to cope with climate change impacts came also from business and science world.

According to Reuters, more than 340 institutional investors, such as BlackRock, Calvert Investments, BNP Paribas Investment Partners and Standard Bank, representing $24 trillion in assets, on Thursday (Sept, 18) wrote a joint letter urging government leaders attending the climate summit to set carbon pricing policies to create incentives for investing in cleaner technologies.

A new scientific study published by Nature few days before the meeting said carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are set to rise by 2.5 per cent to a record 40 billion tons in 2014, and at this rate the world will consume all its “carbon budget” (the amount of carbon dioxide we can release into the atmosphere before catastrophic climate change becomes inevitable) within 30 years.

According to official release, more than 120 heads of states and government will attend the one-day conference, including US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. If the attendances will be confirmed on September 23, over 150 countries will be represented by government leaders or ministers.

In what was called “a solutions summit”, they are expected “to announce their vision and commitment for reaching a universal and meaningful climate agreement in 2015, as well as make announcements on actions that will reduce emissions, enhance resistance to climate change and mobilize financing for climate action”.

Top emitters countries (China, the US, the EU and India) grab the most attention, as well as possible ideas to speed up financial flows to help poorer countries in coping with climate change. According to US official, US President Barack Obama will highlight strides the United States has made on recent mitigation and adaptation policies. The Chinese delegation, represented by Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, is expected to “announce China’s position on a new agreement”, that will be discussed in December in Lima and awaited in 2015, and to explain “some positive actions” it will take after 2020.