Text & Photos by K. Cecchini @tonightatdawn
Did our global leaders in government and business hear the cry of hundreds of thousands throughout the world on Sunday?
For the opening of the Climate Summit on Tuesday, May Boeve, 350.org executive director, issued the following:
“Sunday’s climate march should be a wake up call to politicians. The march in New York, and marches around the world, were led by people who suffer already the effects of climate change. Their numbers grow daily, and our impatience as well–the time for pointless incremental change is past, and the opportunity for visionary leadership never larger.”
The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reflected on his participation with the 400,000 marchers on Sunday (increased from the original estimate),
“While marching with the people, I felt that I had become a Secretary-General of the People. I am the Secretary-General of the United Nations; I am now working for the People.”
Early afternoon on the first day, Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org, provided his reaction to President Obama’s address at the Summit,
“President Obama says America has ‘stepped up to the plate’ — and dropped down a bunt single when we’re behind by 10 runs in the 9th inning. If the President really wants collective ambition, he’s got to show a little more can do spirit from the world’s leading economy.”
The Climate Justice Alliance press release’s title a couple of hours later clearly expressed more cynicism at the end of the day,
“World Leaders prefer photo ops with community members rather than real talk.”
On the other hand, Andrew Revkin of the NY Times Dotearth blog, was “heartened” after reading Ban Ki-moon’s summary of governmental and private climate and energy commitments. Although the bar has been lowered from seeking a ‘binding’ agreement to “commitments”, but as a result, their has even more movement that hopefully set a better stage for the Parisian Climate Talks in 2015 than the Copahagen Talks 5 years ago.
Although Revkin believes these are modest moves, here are a couple of the bullet points he highlighted from the Summit:
Paths to cuts in emissions:
– The New York Declaration on Forests, launched and supported by more than 150 partners, including 28 government, 8 subnational governments, 35 companies, 16 indigenous peoples groups, and 45 NGO and civil society groups, aims to halve the loss of natural forests globally by 2030.
– Some of the world’s largest retailers of meat and agricultural products committed to adapt their supply chains to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change. They will assist 500 million farmers in the process.
– A coalition of institutional investors, committed to decarbonizing $100 billion by December 2015 and to measure and disclose the carbon footprint of at least $500 billion in investments.
Energy and agriculture:
– Leaders of the oil and gas industry, along with national Governments and civil society organisations, made an historic commitment to identify and reduce methane emissions by 2020.
– Leaders from 19 countries and 32 partners from Government, regional organisations, development institutions and private investors committed to creating an 8,000 kilometre-long African Clean Energy Corridor.
I think this last point is particularly important as it is at least a nod to the numerous people around the world who experience all the negatives of energy use without the benefits of, well, energy. Ba Ki-moon trumps the idea of “sustainable energy for all”. It’s a beautiful idea but seems lofty from the perspective of a divisive world in 2014. In conversation with Brian Lehrer of WNYC, Revkin spoke about this awkward dialogue of developed countries with emerging economies that still have people who live in the dark.
“Sustainable energy for all” -or bust.