Earth Day: Ban Ki-moon urges voters to push for tough climate action

Secretary General’s message calls on people to “encourage” heads of state ahead of UN summit in September

(Pic: NASA)

(Pic: NASA)

By Ed King

Changing public perceptions to climate change is the key challenge facing the planet, says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Speaking as part of celebrations surrounding Earth Day 2014, Ban warned “prosperity and stability in all regions” was threatened by the onset of dangerous levels of warming.

And he called on “people everywhere” to demand tougher carbon cutting measures from their leaders, ahead of a heads of state climate summit he is convening this September in New York.

“I am inviting Heads of State and Government along with private sector and civil society leaders to showcase initiatives and forge alliances that can help launch a sustainable future. But they need support and encouragement, for change is never easy,” he said.

“I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home.”

Ban’s meeting is the latest step towards a proposed global climate change deal, scheduled to be signed off in Paris next year.

Countries are locked in protracted negotiations over who will make the toughest carbon pollution cuts, and how poorer states will pay for new energy systems.

So far no single country has committed to a global agreement, but the UN is expecting to receive ‘carbon reduction pledges’ from countries at the start of 2015.

His call comes a week after the UN’s IPCC climate science panel released its third major report into the causes and consequences of climate change.

According to scientists the world is currently on course to heat 2C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, a level deemed as dangerous and one countries pledged to avoid in 2009.

Only a swift transition to cleaner forms of energy like wind and solar could avert this, they said in their WGIII study, published in Berlin on April 13.

Calling for a “global transformation of attitude and practice”, Ban also said governments had to realise that the current consumption of natural resources is unsustainable, threatening the balance of the global ecosystem.

“From tropical deforestation to depleted ocean fisheries, from growing freshwater shortages to the rapid decline of biodiversity and increasingly polluted skies and seas in many parts of the world, we see the heavy hand of humankind,” he said.

“As our population grows we have to recognize that our consumption of the planet’s resources is unsustainable.”

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