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Guest Thinkers

Stakes Are High As Climate Week NYC Kicks Off

With just 70 days left before December’s critical international climate talks in Copenhagen (COP15), the heat is on to bring the world to an agreement on a plan for emissions reductions, climate change adaptation, and technology sharing between the developed and developing worlds. Science has decided that it’s too late for mucking about with red tape, lackadaisical negotiations, or finger pointing. It’s time to get a little impatient with the negotiation process.

As Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environment Programme put it during this month’s World Climate Conference in Geneva:

“Climate change has imposed on the global economy and national governments and politicians a challenge that none of them had every imagined they would confront, which is to reinvent the way our economies will develop in the future, and doing that against an extremely narrow window of time, and against a world that has extremely diverse interests that have to be reconciled. So I want to defend the reality of the negotiation process while at the same time recognizing that the world has to be extremely impatient with the negotiation process. It has to over the next few weeks call for a deal in Copenhagen, not to allow the world to continue to be entrenched in a negotiation track that does not allow the objectives that the IPCC set to be addressed head on in Copenhagen.”

In just this spirit of pragmatic impatience, and in an effort to get the conversation moving before COP15 is upon them, more than 100 Heads of State will gather at the UN General Assembly tomorrow for a high level summit called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The summit falls on day three of Climate Week NYC. President Obama will attend – no small thing, considering how busy we all know the guy’s been lately – and renew his commitment to a green US economy and global climate agenda.

And the stakes are high. A news release out from the Copenhagen Climate Council today went so far as to suggest that failure to move toward an agreement at tomorrow’s summit could spell war – you heard it, war – within the decade.

“The UN meeting will be a critical turning point for the talks leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year. Success in New York with major economies like the US, China, and India, demonstrating leadership and willingness to commit to emissions reductions would pave the way for an effective agreement in Copenhagen. Failure could be the prelude to climate wars in 10 years time,” warned Tim Flannery, Chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council. Flannery is in New York at the moment, and will participate in tomorrow’s summit.


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