UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The only thing rising faster than heat-trapping gases Tuesday were the statements of urgency by world leaders, who told each other at a United Nations summit how se-riously they take global warming. Binding commitments and action are to come.
President Barack Obama pressed other countries to follow the United States’ lead on the issue, even as the summit revealed the many obstacles that stand in the way of wider agreements to reduce heat-trapping pollution. “The United States has made ambitious investments in clean energy and ambitious reduc-
tions in our carbon emissions,” Obama said. “Today I call on all countries to join us, not next year or the year after that, but right now. Because no nation can meet this global threat alone.”
But none of the pledges made at the one-day meeting was binding. The largest-ever gathering of world leaders to discuss climate was des-igned to lay the groundwork for a new global climate-change treaty. It also revealed the sharp differences that divide countries on matters such as deforestation, carbon pollution and methane leaks from oil and gas production:
– Brazil, home to the Amazon rainforest, said it would not sign a pledge to halt deforestation by 2030.
ABOVE: Marches make their way across Central Park South during the recent People’s Climate March in New York. Activists mobilised in cities across the globe over the weekend for marches against climate change – PHOTOS: AFP
– The United States decided not to join 73 countries in supporting a price on carbon, which Congress has indicated it would reject.
– And minutes after Obama said “nobody gets a pass”, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli insisted the world treat developing nations, including China, differently than developed nations, allowing them to release more heat-trapping pollution. China, the No 1 carbon-polluting nation, signed on in sup-port of pricing carbon and vowed to stop the rise of carbon-dioxide emissions as soon as possible.
Obama said global warming “will define the contours of this century more dramatically than” terrorism, disease or inequality.
“Today we must set the world on a new course,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who added that pricing carbon was critical. “Climate change is the defining issue of our age. It is defining our present. Our response will define our future.”
In some ways, the summit, which was part of the annual UN General Assembly, answered that call.
The European Union said its member nations next month were set to approve a plan that would cut greenhouse gases back to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. The EU also called for using renewable energy for 27 per cent of the bloc’s power needs and increasing energy efficiency by 30 per cent.
The United States will not release its new emissions targets until early next year.