By TONI ELLINGTON
Beginning on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, the United States and President Obama joined heads of state from over 120 countries in New York City for the United Nations (“UN”) Climate Summit 2014. The Summit was convened by the UN and is aimed at persuading governments to take action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
This gathering of country leaders is the largest of its kind since 2009, when international negotiations over climate change took place in Copenhagen. At that international summit, countries were unable to settle on a treaty limiting global greenhouse gas emissions. The attending countries hope to reach an agreement this year. However, a potential roadblock to an international treaty is the absence of the premier of China, which is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas. China is being represented by Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli rather that its President Xi Jinping. Also missing is Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, who will discuss climate change in an office White House visit in a few weeks.
This year’s summit has attracted thousands of protesters and environmental activists to Manhattan. On Sunday, September 21, 2014, a group of approximately 300,000 environmental activists marched in New York City. Similar rallies of environmental activists were held simultaneously across the U.S.
The Obama administration hopes to use the summit to showcase its achievements in reducing U.S. carbon emissions, raising fuel-economy standards for the automobile industry, and reducing pollution from coal-burning power plants. Entrepreneurs and businesses are in attendance to promote their technologies for making wind and solar power competitive with traditional energy sources. On Monday, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which originated from businesses with ties to fossil fuels, announced plans to begin divesting itself of fossil-fuel stocks, citing the Rockefeller heirs’ concerns about climate change.
In April 2014, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reported that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in approximately 300,000 years. See reports at www.esrl.noaa.gov.
For more information, contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500.