Leaders expected to make four minute speeches outlining commitment to global emissions agreement in 2015
By Ed King
The UN has confirmed that 122 heads of government will attend its climate leaders’ summit in New York on September 23.
A further four deputy prime ministers and environment ministers from 36 countries will also send delegations, raising the number of participating countries to 162.
US president Barack Obama and UK prime minister David Cameron have confirmed their presence, as have leaders from Japan, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon wants to use the event to force a common understanding among leaders 15 months before they are set to agree a global treaty to address climate change.
Last week the World Meteorological Organisation reported greenhouse gas emissions had soared between 2012-2013, reducing the chance of limiting global warming to below 2C, beyond which scientists predict dramatic changes to the world’s climate.
“People might have a ‘plan B’ but there is no planet ‘B’,” Ban said. “There are plenty of affordable solutions out there such as renewable energy and avoiding deforestation.”
Leaders are scheduled to make a series of four minute interventions in the morning in three separate plenary areas, outlining their “national action and ambition announcements”.
European Union Commission President Jose Manual Barroso will kick off proceedings in the main arena, while Morocco and Bolivia will be first up in the other rooms.
A separate afternoon session has been set aside for countries who have not sent heads of governments to reveal their plans to curb carbon emissions.
China is sending its fifth most important official, Zhang Gao li, while India and Germany will be represented by their environment ministers.
Russia’s climate advisor will stand in place of Vladmir Putin. Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Myanmar are other countries not sending a prime minister or president.
Former White House climate official Pete Ogden told RTCC pledges to the UN’s Green Climate Fund could be one of the more concrete results from the summit.
Developing countries were promised $100 billion by 2020 to help them develop low carbon infrastructure and cleaner energy systems, but only a small amount has arrived so far.
But Ogden, who is now Director of International Energy and Climate Policy at the Centre for American Progress think-tank, warned against hopes of any significant agreement by the end of the day.
“I think what will happen in New York is not going to be a breakthrough among leaders on the core elements of a new international climate deal,” he said.
“I think what it will be is an expression of the ways in which government policy, private sector and the civil society are all working together in different ways to try and forge together a common solution.”
He added: “What makes it unique is for leaders to be in a venue where they are also actively engaged with leaders from other non-government sectors and can hear from them.”
Business groups and civil society delegations are also likely to make similar announcements throughout the day.
RTCC understands a major commitment to boost carbon pricing initiatives around the world is likely to be launched by a coalition of development banks, cities and business leaders.
World Bank vice president Rachel Kyte said this would reveal “significant percentages” of global GDP, populations and emissions are already covered by a carbon price.
“We think that’s news because we think people don’t believe that is really happening,” she said.
A separate group of CEOs from multinational retailers and suppliers will also reaffirm a commitment to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020 and phase out refrigerants that use potent climate-warming gases by 2015.