U.N. Secretary General On Climate Change: ‘It’s Time to Lead’

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Abu Dhabi Ascent
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses attendees at the ‘Abu Dhabi Ascent’ climate meeting.

The opening speeches at the high-level U.N. meeting on climate change at Abu Dhabi Ascent on Sunday constituted a rallying call to world leaders; a declaration that it’s time to stop talking and start taking action.

Proceedings opened with a welcome speech by Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change. Citing the recent IPCC report on climate change, he told the audience: “We have before us only 15 years to address decades of environmentally harmful activities, and to prevent a global temperature increase of 2 degrees Centigrade,” adding later, “If we are to successfully mitigate climate change, then we must commit to a decade of action.”

Following Dr. Al Jaber, Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, reinforced the message with a sombre warning: “Climate change is the defining issue of our time … If we do not take urgent action, all our plans for increased global prosperity and security will be undone.” His rallying message came towards the end of his speech when he said, “Climate action is feasible, affordable and beneficial … Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.”

Concluding the opening segment, Mr John W. Ashe, United Nations President of the 68th session of the General Assembly, succinctly provided some stark reminders: “We have engaged for far too long in talks;” “We need to take action now, and it has to start today;” and finally, “We have to make Paris meaningful.” – Referring to the 2015 U.N. FCCC Climate Change Conference in Paris where a global, binding climate agreement will be negotiated.

The message is clear, delegates from governments around the world need to use this meeting to begin addressing solutions in a collaborative manner; and to get the ball rolling, immediately following the conference opening, Mr. Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, made the keynote address.

Mr. Gore used powerful graphics and charts in a tone familiar to those who watched his 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” to reinforce the urgency that action must be taken. His address was up-to-date in terms of chronicling extreme weather events of the last week, such as the devastating mudslide in Afghanistan and extreme rains in Florida, while depicting alarming trends such as the fact that between 2006 and 2010, drought has turned 60 percent of Syria’s fertile land into deserts. Indeed, as Mr. Gore noted that extreme heat events are 100 times more common than they were three decades ago, the picture was the familiar and depressing one.

But more optimistically, things have moved forward since Mr. Gore’s film was released around eight years ago. He pointed out that today, 79 countries have reached the point where the price of solar energy has reached price-parity with grid average prices, and that within six years, 82 percent of people globally will have access to solar energy at, or lower, than grid average prices.

Mr. Gore also applauded the fact that the business and investment community is moving forward at a rate far greater than that of governments in terms of investment flows, and that new business models are appearing — and new finance models, too. And he is optimistic that while actions to address climate change have started off slower than expected, they will end up being faster than expected in the end. We’ll see if global government leaders pick up the mantel, but in the meantime Mr. Gore concluded, “Political will is a renewable resource.”

But this perhaps is a proving ground of the political will that will play out over the next year. In a later press conference with Ban Ki-moon and Dr. Al Jaber, it was stressed that the meeting in Abu Dhabi is a very important milestone, and one where it is hoped strong political momentum is generated; because this is the last stop before the U.N. climate conference in New York in September of this year, which is itself the last stop before global leaders hash out an agreement next year in Paris.

Photo  courtesy of Abu Dhabi Ascent

Travel expenses for the Author and TriplePundit to attend Abu Dhabi Ascent were provided by Masdar.

Follow me on Twitter: @PhilCovBlog

Phil Covington holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. In the past, he spent 16 years in the freight transportation and logistics industry. Today, Phil's writing focuses on transportation, forestry, technology and matters of sustainability in business.

4 responses

  1. REAL planet lovers are not determined to “believe” that 32 years of science being nothing beyond; “95%” certain is proof enough to “believe” the end is near. We need 100% certainty from science itself, not from a mob of eager “believers” telling their own kids that science “believes” as much as they do.
    REAL progressives doubt, question and challenge ALL authority especially ones that condemn the planet.

    1. 95% certainty a catastrophe is going to happen isn’t enough for you to do something about it?


      How certain are you there won’t be a climate crisis?

      If we aren’t headed for total polar meltdown, 246 feet of sea level rise and the drowning of the habitat occupied by half of humanity, just with the CO₂ already in the air, why isn’t there a single previous example in Earth’s history of polar ice caps withstanding CO₂ so high?

    2. ‘Mememine’ is a well known astro-turfer for the denial industry.
      He spams the same identical gish gallops of the most absurd nonsense to any and every publication and blog that includes the word “climate” in the header.

      He posts to about 40 threads under around 5 or 6 different screen-names and his total number of spam posts under the sceen-name ‘mememine69’ alone is nearly 10,000.

      Yep – 10,000 near identical posts.

      His real name is Paul Merrifield and he is an obese 60 year old loser from Niagra Falls now living in London, Ontario.
      It has been explained to him a hundred times that the scientific method deals in the balance of probabilities and not absolutes. He usualy just does a ‘drive-by’ posting and doesn’t even attempt to refute the proof that he is posting BS.

      I always report him as spam whenever possible.

      He often changes his name but he is instantly recognisable from the same old posts week in week out.

      Just shows what intelligent people are up against when there exist repulsive individuals who are prepared to threaten ours and our childrens future for his ideological beliefs and whatever pennies the carbon corporations toss to him.

      Just so you know it’s the truth here are just a few of his spam posts under his various guises.

      as ‘Al Bore’

      as ‘mememine69′(9,729 posts)

      as ‘mememine’

      as ‘DavidNutzuki’

  2. It seems that the fossil fuels group is exerting more pressure for their products, than the climate change group is able to successfully retaliate against. Money, greed political power, seems to have more say in the final argument than the Scientists. How can the scientific group make their point more evident to the public?

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