Vows to tackle climate change, commitments to meet emission reduction targets and promises of financial assistance were thick on the ground Tuesday as world leaders met at the UN Climate Summit.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras (file photo)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.?

The summit, convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is not part of the negotiations taking place in the build-up to a 2015 summit in Paris, where a comprehensive deal is set to be decided. Ban has instead convened the event to build political momentum in favour of an agreement.

The world has never before faced a global challenge like climate change, Ban said in his opening remarks.

“Climate change threatens hard-won peace, prosperity and opportunity for billions of people,” Ban said. “Today we must set the world on a new course.”

US President Barack Obama was among the 120 world leaders in attendance, a record for such a meeting. However, the president of China, the world’s largest polluter, was not planning to attend the talks.

The UN chief called on governments and private institutions to invest in climate solutions designed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. He also urged the implementation of carbon taxes.

The European Union said it will distribute 3 billion euros (3.85 billion dollars) to developing countries during the next seven years to promote the development of sustainable energy.

“Support to the most vulnerable parts of the global community is critical,” said Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.

Barroso also encouraged European leaders to agree on an “ambitious” proposal by the European Commission, which includes a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 per cent by 2030, when compared with 1990 levels, and to increase the output of renewable energy by at least 27 per cent.

French President Francois Hollande said that his country will contribute 1 billion dollars to the Green Climate Fund in the coming years. The fund was set up by the United Nations to channel money from developed to developing nations to tackle climate change.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for regional and global cooperation to tackle climate change, stressing that Iran was willing to partner with other countries.

Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor who was recently appointed UN messenger of peace, said stopping climate change would require immediate and large-scale action.

“As an actor, I pretend for a living, I play fictitious characters,” DiCaprio said. “I believe that mankind has looked at climate change in that same way – as it were a fiction, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.”

DiCaprio noted that a liveable climate is an “inalienable human right.”

“Honoured delegates, leaders of the world, I pretend for a living, but you do not,” DiCaprio said. “The time to answer humankind’s biggest challenge is now. I beg of you to face it with courage and honesty.”

GNA

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