UN Climate Summit 2014 – All Hands on Deck

U.N. Climate Summit 2014 LogoIt gives me hope to read about and watch videos from U.N. Climate Summit 2014 held in New York City on September 23. Over 100 world leaders announced what they and their countries have done, are doing, and will do to address climate change between now and 2020.

In his opening remarks, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon succinctly summed it up.

“To ride this storm we need all hands on deck.”

In addition to heads of state, other participants included mayors, business and financial CEOs, and people representing civil society and non-governmental organizations. Due to the number of people speaking at the one-day summit, several sessions occurred simultaneously. The whole group got together for opening, mid-day, and closing remarks. The U.N. Climate Summit 2014 website has links to the schedule and list of speakers as well as videos of each session.

UN Climate Summit 2014 – Country Statements

I was interested in President Obama’s statement, but I was equally if not more eager to find out what other world leaders had to say. After reading country statements posted on the U.N. website and individual country websites, I selected the 10 quotes below as a sample of what world leaders said at the summit.

General Assembly Hall during U.N. Climate Summit 2014 - Photo: U.N Stated carbon emission reduction targets varied widely, as did commitments to the Green Climate Fund set up to help developing countries deal with climate change. Many countries pointed out how little they have contributed to global greenhouse gas emissions and called on developed countries to step up their financial assistance.

  • Australia – “Australia remains committed to reducing its emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.”
  • Canada – “We are extremely proud to have committed, and delivered upon, $1.2 BILLION in Fast Start Financing money to help other countries adapt to and mitigate climate change.”
  • Chile – “Today I wish to reaffirm Chile’s voluntary commitment to reduce its projected emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, with the necessary international support.”
  • China – “Recently, we adopted the national plan on climate change to make sure we will meet the target of cutting carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level.”
  • Fiji – “Amongst other things, our target includes increasing the share of renewable energy for electricity generation from the current level of 60% to 100% by 2030.”
  • India – “We are fully committed to achieving our voluntary goal for reducing Emission Intensity of its GDP by 20-25% by 2020 over 2005 level.”
  • Korea – “The Korean government pledges up to 100 million dollars to the GCF, including the 50 million we are currently paying.”
  • Liberia – “Moreover, Liberia has completed a Gender and Climate Change Strategy. The Strategy is intended to build the resilience of Liberian Women to the impacts of climate change.”
  • Maldives – “Is it not ironic that countries like the Maldives, whose contribution to global greenhouse emissions, is just 0.00003 percent, face an existential threat because of these emissions?”
  • Russia – “In 2013, a Presidential decree set forth the national goal of cutting anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 by 25% from 1990 level.”

UN Climate Summit 2014 – President Obama’s Remarks

During his 12-minute U.N. Climate Summit 2014 speech, President Obama gave an overview of U.S. climate change related accomplishments, actions, and confirmed our carbon reduction commitment.

“Five years ago, I pledged America would reduce our carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. America will meet that target.”

President Barack Obama Speaks at U.N. Climate Summit 2014 - Photo U.N. / Kim HaughtonTo me, the most surprising part of the speech was when the President admitted the United States’ culpability in creating the problem. He may have mentioned this before, but this is the first time I had heard it. I think this important. We cannot change the past, but we can take responsibility, change direction, and work towards a sustainable society today and every day.

“Yes, this is hard. But there should be no question that the United States of America is stepping up to the plate. We recognize our role in creating this problem; we embrace our responsibility to combat it. We will do our part, and we will help developing nations do theirs. But we can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every nation –- developed and developing alike. Nobody gets a pass.”

If you missed the President’s speech, click to watch the video or read a transcript of his remarks.

What’s Possible

Interestingly, both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Obama referred to the People’s Climate March that took place in New York City two days before the summit. Ban Ki-moon spoke of his own participation in the march and the President alluded to it.

It is up to us to keep the momentum going, by continually and constantly demanding our elected officials act on climate change, supporting and voting for people who do act, and taking action ourselves.

The summit began with this beautiful, inspiring 4-minute film entitled What’s Possible narrated by the master narrator, Morgan Freeman. It seems a fitting closing to this post.

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International Day of Peace 2014 – Right of Peoples to Peace

International Day of Peace and the People’s Climate March both occur on Sunday, September 21, 2014. Peace and climate change action are connected.

Dove Holding an Olive Branch Peace SymbolWe all need to pull together to work towards a sustainable existence on earth. It is hard to imagine us being able to accomplish this with all the violence, terrorism, and war going on around the world. People struggling to stay alive are concerned with today, not what may happen next month, next year, or in the next century. No one should have to live in fear of his or her life. We need peace on earth.

Will one day of peace or one march put us on a new path? Maybe or maybe not, but it is a start, and there is no downside to a day without violence or participating in a peaceable event.

A previous post covered the People’s Climate March so this one will explore International Day of Peace.

International Day of Peace Established – 1981

International Flags Flying in Front of United Nations in New York CityThe United Nations established the International Day of Peace in 1981 during its 36th General Assembly session. Originally, International Day of Peace was observed on the third Tuesday of September to coincide with the annual opening day of the United Nations General Assembly.

“…since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed, that a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of Governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind…” —excerpt from U.N. Resolution 36/37

Declaration of The Right of Peoples to Peace – 1984

This year’s International Day of Peace theme “The Right of Peoples to Peace” marks the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of the Right of Peoples to Peace adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984.

“…life without war serves as the primary international prerequisite for the material well-being, development and progress of countries, and for the full implementation of the rights and fundamental human freedoms proclaimed by the United Nations.” —excerpt from U.N. Declaration of the Right of Peoples to Peace

September 21st becomes International Day of Peace – 2001

In 2001, the United Nations approved Resolution 55/282, fixing September 21 as the date for observing International Day of Peace and declaring it a global day of ceasefire and non-violence.

Apparently, the United Nations did not come up with this idea of their own volition. In his 2011 One Day of Peace Ted Talk, Jeremy Gilley, filmmaker and founder of Peace One Day, passionately talks about his quest for a specific day of peace, ceasefire and non-violence.

Watch the 6-minute film below, Introduction to Peace One Day 2014, for a short version of the story and to learn about how the International Day of Peace movement is growing. It is inspiring.

International Day of Peace – 2014

“The Right of Peoples to Peace”

U.N Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon’s International Day of Peace 2014 message asks combatants to lay down their arms, at least for the day, and for everyone to observe a minute of silence at noon.

“Today is the International Day of Peace.
Each year, on this day, the United Nations calls for a global ceasefire.
We ask combatants to put down their arms so all can breathe the air of peace.
Armed conflict causes untold grief to families, communities, and entire countries.
Too many are suffering today at the brutal hands of warmongers and terrorists.
Let us stand with them in solidarity.
Peace and security are essential foundations for social progress and sustainable development.
International Day of Peace 2014 Poster - United NationsThat is why, three decades ago, the United Nations affirmed the right of peoples to peace.
Throughout the coming year, we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.
Our organisation is founded on the pledge to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
We have made much progress.
But much remains to be done.
We must douse the fires of extremism and tackle the root causes of conflict.
Peace is a long road that we must travel together – step by step, beginning today.
Let us all observe a minute of silence, at noon.
Let us all reflect on peace – and what it means for our human family.
Let us hold it in our hearts and minds and tenderly nurture it so it may grow and blossom.”

International Day of Peace and Climate Change

Hands Forming a Circle over Sand - CollaborationWe often seem to concentrate on what divides us (assisted by the media). This will not bring peace or create a sustainable civilization. Sure, humans vary, yet people with diverse backgrounds and dissimilar opinions can and do get along and collaborate every day at work, at home, and in communities around the world.

Sunday, September 21, 2014, International Day of Peace is an ideal time to focus on our common humanity.

“We may have all come in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

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