Na­tions urged to take more ac­tion on cli­mate change at UN sum­mit

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United States — The largest gath­er­ing of world lead­ers on cli­mate change opened at the United Na­tions yes­ter­day fac­ing calls for ac­tion to put the planet on course to­ward rev­ers­ing global warm­ing.

“To­day, we must set the world on a new course,” UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon told lead­ers from 120 coun­tries. “I am ask­ing you to lead.”

The meet­ing is the first high-level gath­er­ing since the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence on cli­mate change ended in dis­ar­ray in 2009.

Diplo­mats and cli­mate ac­tivists see the event as cru­cial to build­ing mo­men­tum ahead of the Paris con­fer­ence in late 2015 that is to yield a deal on re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions after 2020.

But no-shows from the lead­ers of China, the world’s big­gest pol­luter, and In­dia, the num­ber three car­bon emit­ter, are cast­ing a cloud over the event.

In his ad­dress, Ban called for a re­duc­tion in green­house gas emis­sions and de­clared that by the end of the cen­tury the world must be car­bon neu­tral.

“Cli­mate change threat­ens hard-won peace, pros­per­ity, and op­por­tu­nity for bil­lions of peo­ple, ” Ban said. “We are not here to talk. We are here to make his­tory.”

Ban was joined at the open­ing by for­mer US vice pres­i­dent and cli­mate cru- sader Al Gore, Hol­ly­wood celebrity Leonardo DiCaprio, Chi­nese ac­tress Li Bing­bing and Ra­jen­dra Pachauri, head of the UN cli­mate panel, which won the Nobel peace prize in 2007.

Lead­ers are to take turns at the podium through­out the day, from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama rep­re­sent­ing the world’s sec­ond big­gest pol­luter to Prime Min­is­ter Enele Sopoaga of...

... the Pa­cific is­land- na­tion of Tu­valu, which faces the prospect of be­ing wiped out by ris­ing sea wa­ters.

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande an­nounced that Paris would con­trib­ute up to US$1 bil­lion to the UN’s global Green Cli­mate Fund (GCF), which helps poorer na­tions fi­nance cli­mate change re­form.

The GCF faces a key test at Ab­bas to pro­pose new Mideast peace talks timetable at UN

— Draw­ing par­al­lels with the US fight for civil rights, Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mahmud Ab­bas has vowed to present a new timetable for peace talks with Is­rael when he ad­dresses world lead­ers this week.

“I say to­day to Prime Min­is­ter (Ben­jamin) Ne­tanyahu: end the oc­cu­pa­tion, make peace,” Ab­bas told an au­di­ence in New York.

In a pas­sion­ate ad­dress to stu­dents on Mon­day in the Cooper Union hall where for­mer US pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln once called for an end to slav­ery, Ab­bas called on the world to “re­think Pales­tine”.

“The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect our peo­ple, liv­ing un­der the ter­ror of set­tlers, an oc­cu­py­ing army,” Ab­bas said, win­ning loud ap­plause from a large au­di­ence of mixed re­li­gions, in­clud­ing Jewish stu­dents.

“We want the in­ter­na­tional the UN sum­mit as it looks to the lead­ers of the in­dus­tri­al­ized world to stump up bil­lions of dol­lars to fill its un­der­flow­ing cof­fers.

“France will con­trib­ute up to $1 bil­lion in the com­ing years,” Hol­lande told the sum­mit hosted by Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon.

Pre­vi­ously only Ger­many had come up with a sub­stan­tial com­mit­ment, pledg­ing around $1.0 bil­lion in July.

De­spite much en­thu­si­asm from com­mu­nity to de­fend us from the set­tlers, and from the Is­raeli army,” Ab­bas said, in what was billed as his first speech in English to a gen­eral Amer­i­can au­di­ence.

“We can­not un­der­stand how the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment can be so mis­guided as to fail to un­der­stand that the in­dis­crim­i­nate bombing of Gaza that killed thou­sands of women and chil­dren, only sowed more hate,” Ab­bas said.

“This week I will pro­pose to the United Na­tions a new timetable for peace talks,” Ab­bas said, speak­ing in English and win­ning a stand­ing ova­tion from the au­di­ence at one of Amer­ica’s old­est ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

Evok­ing the leg­ends of such icons as Nel­son Man­dela, Ma­hatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr, Ab­bas said he was bring­ing a mes­sage of peace.

“Se­cu­rity equals jus­tice,” Ab­bas in­sisted, and drew par­al­lels with the cen­tury-long US cli­mate ac­tivists for the sum­mit’s po­ten­tial to cre­ate im­pe­tus, some see the event as fall­ing short of what is needed to get se­ri­ous about the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Few gov­ern­ments will be in a po­si­tion to make any real com­mit­ments,” wrote the aid agency Ox­fam in an as­sess­ment of the sum­mit’s likely out­come.

The ini­tia­tives to be un­veiled by the pri­vate sec­tor, foun­da­tions, and green groups at the sum­mit, the group said “are help­ful but few, if any, are re­ally ground­break­ing.”

The sum­mit is be­ing held af- strug­gle for civil rights pep­per­ing his speech with ref­er­ences to King and Abra­ham Lin­coln.

“Enough is enough; end the oc­cu­pa­tion. We ask that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity stop hid­ing be­hind calls for the re­sump­tion of talks,” Ab­bas said.

The veteran Pales­tinian leader is set to ad­dress the an­nual UN Gen­eral Assem­bly on Fri­day.

Pales­tinian lead­ers have said Ab­bas in­tends to pro­pose a three-year dead­line for the end of the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion and the es­tab­lish­ment of a Pales­tinian state.

The lat­est peace talks led by top US diplo­mat John Kerry col­lapsed in April amid bit­ter re­crim­i­na­tions on both sides.

Pales­tinian and Is­raeli of­fi­cials are try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a per­ma­nent deal to seal a cease­fire which went into place in late Au­gust after a 50-day war in the Gaza Strip.

Ab­bas also aligned him­self with the fight against the Is­lamic ter marches drew hun­dreds of thou­sands of demon­stra­tors on the streets in ci­ties world­wide on Sun­day in a show of “ peo­ple power ” di­rected at lead­ers re­luc­tant to tackle global warm­ing.

Key play­ers from the pri­vate sec­tor are also step­ping into the fray to trum­pet their com­mit­ment to green­ing, with Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook an­nounc­ing on Mon­day that the tech gi­ant would pri­ori­tise low-car­bon growth.

The sum­mit talks are sep­a­rate from the ne­go­ti­a­tions held un­der the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion ji­hadists spread­ing ter­ror in Iraq and Syria.

9/11 apol­ogy

“I am speak­ing on be­half of 99 per cent of the Mus­lim peo­ple around the world. Here, to­day in the shadow of Ground Zero, I state to the world that the bar­bar­ians of ISIL, Daesh and AlQaeda are not faith­ful Mus­lims,” Ab­bas said to ap­plause.

“And to the fam­i­lies and the chil­dren of the vic­tims of Septem­ber 11, I say, as a Pales­tinian Mus­lim, I am sorry for your pain. Th­ese mur­der­ers do not rep­re­sent Is­lam, we all stand against them to de­feat their evil plans.

“At the same time we must work to end the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion and es­tab­lish a Pales­tinian state, for we can­not fight ter­ror only by the gun.”

But he called on Amer­ica to be a true friend to Is­rael. — on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC), which will cul­mi­nate with the Paris con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber 2015.

The United Na­tions is seek­ing to limit global warm­ing to 2 de­grees C over pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, but sci­en­tists say cur­rent emis­sion trends could hike tem­per­a­tures to more than twice that level by cen­tury’s end.

One re­cent re­port warned that a surge in car­bon diox­ide lev­els had pushed green­house gases to record highs in the at­mos­phere, in­creas­ing at their fastest rate in 30 years in 2013. —

The largest gath­er­ing of world lead­ers on cli­mate change takes place at the UN. The meet­ing was the first high-level gath­er­ing since the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence on cli­mate change ended in dis­ar­ray in 2009. — AFP/VNA Photo

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