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'Time is running out to fix the world'

19 September 2014

Christina Manning previews next week's UN Climate Summit in New York


Preparing for the worst:top: campaigners in Manila, the Philippines, last week. Their full banner reads "Lower the global temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius

Preparing for the worst:top: campaigners in Manila, the Philippines, last week. Their full banner reads "Lower the global temperature by 1.5 degrees...

THE secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, has warned against foot-dragging over climate change. "The more we delay, the more we will pay," he said, in advance of the UN Climate Summit 2014, which is attracting world leaders and leading economists to New York next Tuesday.

The summit seeks to galvanise action on climate change, and build political momentum towards the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which meets in Paris at the end of next year. This is where world leaders will make a global climate agreement outlining action to reduce emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Once again, Mr Ban is asking for action, not just words. Preparing for the summit, he said: "Time is running out. . . Climate change is accelerating, and human activities are the principal cause. The effects are already widespread, costly, and consequential - to agriculture, water resources, human health, and ecosystems on land and in the oceans. Climate change poses sweeping risks for economic stability and the security of nations."

He has called on all heads of government and businesses represented to share what they are already doing to tackle climate change, and to give pledges on the action that they will take in the future. 

The UN has recently confirmed that representatives from 162 countries will attend the summit: 122 of these will be heads of government, among them Barack Obama and David Cameron.

Civil-society organisations in the UK and worldwide have been acting to raise awareness and accelerate practical action since the summit was announced. The People's Climate March has been arranged by a coalition of climate-focused and advocacy organisations. The central march is to take place in New York on Sunday, and marches are taking place in each region of the world.

The director of the multifaith initiative GreenFaith, the Revd Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest, has been an instrumental player in mobilising faith communities across the United States to be represented at the New York march.  The Anglican Alliance and other faith groups have been encouraging churches and communities to join marches in their city.

Interfaith events are also taking place in the next week: 30 faith leaders plan to sign a declaration arguing the urgency of action on climate change; and there will be a pre-summit faiths conference.

In a recent television interview, Mr Harper spoke of creation: "God gave us this incredible gift; it is our job to take care of it. We're not doing as good a job as we can, and we know how to do better.  And that's what it's about, that's what we're called to do."

Mr Harper is one of the speakers at the Anglican Alliance's global webinar, an internet summit that takes place after the UN meeting. The online event will attempt to engage faith communities around the world in discussions about the outcomes from the summit, as well as what action people can take.

The hope is that the UN summit will be a game-changer before the climate negotiations in Paris next year, helping to build momentum on worldwide action.


Question of the week: Will world leaders make the changes needed to combat climate change?



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