As it happened: World leaders pledge climate action in New York

Latest headlines:
-France pledges US$1 billion to Green Climate Fund, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland also announce contributions
-Leonardo DiCaprio tells leaders “I pretend for a living; you don’t”
-Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner reads a poem addressed to her young daughter
-Declarations on forest protection, green finance and methane issued
-Around 100 activists arrested in Flood Wall Street protest

0040 BST – That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading. Ed King will be filing a wrap of the main events shortly.

0037 BST – There weren’t many still around to hear Machel, but a couple commented. Bedingfield now singing.



Crowds flood Wall Street carrying a "carbon bubble" in demo for climate action (Pic: Flickr/Stephen Melkisethian)

Crowds flood Wall Street carrying a
“carbon bubble” in demo for climate action
(Pic: Flickr/Stephen Melkisethian)

0032 BST – Graca Machel speaks. And she is not giving the delegates an easy ride.

“I won’t be speaking to you today about facts and statistics. You have heard them all before,” she says. “What I want to speak about today is courage, leadership and conviction…

“Let me be frank. We have reached a tipping point. So our commitments must be ambitious enough to stop us from falling over the precipice.

“Personally I have mixed feelings. I acknowledge there is the beginning of understanding of the gravity of the challenges we face.

“But at the same time I have the impression that there is a huge mismatch between the scale of the challenge and the responses that we have heard today.”

She talks about the thousands of people who marched on Sunday, who are all affected by climate change.

“We need to keep their faces and voices at the centre of our response.”

The Elders are calling for action “now, not tomorrow”. And between now and Paris, everyone must do their homework, to match their responses to the magnitude of the problem, says Machel.

0021 BST – Peru president Ollanta Humala lists some objectives for December’s climate talks.

“Our hope is that the Lima conference will build the greatest alliance in history for climate action.”

0016 BST – Ban Ki-moon is summing up. “Today was a great day, and a historic day” says Ban. “Never before have so many leaders come together to back climate action.”

He lists the moves on carbon pricing, climate finance and forest protection. An outcome document will be distributed soon, he says.

“We must maintain the spirit of compromise and commitment that characterised these talks.”

In Paris 2015, we will look back on today “as the day we decided to put our house in order”, he concludes.

0011 BST – Machel is one of the Elders, a group of independent global leaders including Gro Harlem Brundtland, Mary Robinson, Ernesto Zedillo and Kofi Annan, who are calling for climate action under the banner #nownottomorrow

0007 BST – Before the not-so-fat lady sings, we’ll have closing remarks from Graca Machel, humanitarian campaigner and widow of Nelson Mandela; Peru president and host of the next climate talks Ollanta Humala; and of course Ban Ki-moon.

2348 BST – More star power for the closing ceremony, which is coming up shortly.


2324 BST – The Climate Institute, an Australian NGO, has sent its reaction to Australia’s speech. “With this disappointing statement, Australia risks being bogged in the backwaters as other countries and capital move on in serious climate action, investment and opportunities,” said John Connor, CEO, from New York. “Unlike others, Australia’s only commitment to share a post 2020 target was after it reviewed that of all its ‘trading partners and competitors’ – without a specific timeline. This appears to completely ignore its previous commitment to play its fair part in global action to avoid dangerous climate change.” “We welcome the commitment to tackling HFCs under the Montreal Protocol and look forward to details on how the Government proposes regulate the phase out HFCs in Australia. “Australia was by no means alone as there was a mixed bag of commitments but, taken together, the actions and commitments made here will give a significant boost to climate negotiations and to cleaner economic opportunities.”

2317 BST – Oxfam has been keeping an eye on Green Climate Fund pledges. This is not quite the final tally – the Czech Republic just added US$5.5 million – but gives an idea of how far it has to go to reach its goal. GCF graph

2315 BST – Palestine’s envoy swerves somewhat haphazardly between the impacts of climate change and the country’s war with Israel, which to some extent highlights the security implications of climate change. “Consecutive seasons of drought, shrinking arable land…increases the burden on the Palestinian people” caused by the conflict, he says. Perhaps surprisingly, considering their national situation, the delegate says that climate change is “the greatest challenge faced by the world this century”.

2306 BST – Ed King, who’s reporting from New York, has just sent us some of his closing impressions: “As the sun sets across New York’s East River, there’s a real sense this meeting is starting to wind down – some delegates are leaving – many more are standing around in groups waiting to hear secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s closing remarks. “I think the lack of serious commitments to the UN’s Green Climate Fund has surprised some observers, who were expecting far more than the $1bn+ of donations countries have announced today. “What is becoming clear is that for many the speeches from US president Obama and China’s vice premier were the signal they were looking for. A commitment from the two largest carbon polluters that they want to back a 2015 climate deal is one of the main tangibles from this conference. “Other announcement such as the scale of carbon pricing, forest protection efforts and green bonds are also significant, but will need to be closely analysed in the coming weeks to work out exactly what they mean.”

2252 BST – The Czech Republic is prepared to contribute US$5.5 million to the Green Climate Fund over the next two years. Brandon Wu, a senior analyst at ActionAid USA, says the GCF pledges so far have been “insufficient” and “uncertain”. “The world was promised 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 and the announcements here add up to no more than a few billion each year – much less than New York City spent responding to Sandy. The devil is also in the detail with the small print on these promises – finance pledges must be for grant-based public money, the only way to reach the poorest and most vulnerable who need support most urgently,” he said.

2248 BST – Greenpeace welcomes China’s promise to peak emissions as early as possible and suggests before 2025 would be good. The environmental group praises Obama’s requirement that federal agencies consider climate change in international development programmes. He should extend that to every US government decision, says executive director Annie Leonard. “So far, the Obama administration continues to allow the fossil fuel industry to undermine efforts to address climate change by mining and drilling for coal, oil, and gas from our public lands and waters, unlocking huge quantities of carbon pollution.” Europe has given “an important signal” with the US$1.3 billion worth of pledges to the Green Climate Fund, says Martin Kaiser, but “can do better” with more ambitious targets for 2030. Executive director Kumi Naidoo argues in a blog the only obstacle to a safe future is the interests of fossil fuel industries. Greenpeace projected this message onto the side of the UN last night. UN Climate Summit Projection Action

2245 BST – Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability & climate change at PwC, warns against investing too much significance in the various announcements of today’s summit “Heads of state spoke passionately all day about climate change and nearly every sector of the economy was covered by the initiatives announced. The role call of activities and ambitions will give many the impression that Ban Ki-moon’s goal of encouraging bold action and raising ambition has been achieved. But it will take time to sort the new announcements from the old, and to understand whether the new announcements are a step change from business as usual. “It was disappointing that carbon capture didn’t get the attention it really needs. Unless it gets high level support this critical low carbon technology will struggle to attract the investment needed. “All in all to the outside observer, it all sounds like an impressive list of initiatives and a huge amount of action on climate change. But the reality is it doesn’t compare with the growth in GDP and emissions that come with it. “With no significant, new commitments by US and China in New York, amongst others, the detail to follow before the Paris Summit next year is more critical than ever.”

2239 BST – Some of the NGOs present in New York for the Summit are unimpressed by how the day has unravelled. “People marched for clear, urgent, actions to transform the energy system. We marched for the banning of new fossil fuel projects and for the promotion and funding for community, decentralized, renewable energy systems. Neither of these were advanced by the Summit, it seems they were listening to the corporate sponsors rather than the people,” said Lidy Nacpil, director of Jubilee South, from the Philippines. Elizabeth Mpofu, director of the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Famers Forum, added: “This so called ‘climate-smart agriculture’ is a very dumb idea. The world’s climate scientists have said that farmers advancing our agroecology solutions not only cool the planet but feed the planet. So why are we being pushed off our lands by more genetically modified crops or complex and risky soil carbon markets. Stop this madness and support our right to our food and our land.”

2236 BST – Sierra Leone, one of the most climate vulnerable countries, calls for concrete commitments towards the Green Climate Fund from developed countries. But it is the Ebola virus that has “provided a rude awakening to our vulnerability,” he says, adding that the climate change issue is currently “overshadowed” by the disease.

2228 BST – Portugal will outperform its 2020 climate targets, says minister, and is pushing for ambitious EU-wide targets for 2030. It gets 60% of its energy from renewables.

2220 BST – The Jerusalem Post has the full text of Israel’s speech to the climate summit, in which the country proposes cooperation on climate change as a route to peace in the Middle East.

2214 BST – Pakistan’s representative highlights the “havoc” wreaked on livelihoods and infrastructure by recent flooding, which is expected to worsen with climate change. Adapting to climate change will cost the country US$5 billion a year, he says.

2201 BST – Filipino climate commissioner and founder of the #fastfortheclimate movement Yeb Sano seems unimpressed by the Summit so far.


2157 BST – “Let’s be clear,” says Canada’s delegate, “Canada is committed to achieving a strong and effective global deal in Paris next year.” As evidence of this, she focuses on sectoral actions take by Canada, including a new announcement yesterday relating to the country’s transport sector. This new deal will “will require courage and common sense,” she says, and must include commitments from all major economies and emitters. Canada’s contribution to the summit is to take further action to reduce HFCs, a short term but potent pollutant, which the country is also pushing through their chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

2147 BST – Another – perhaps surprising – plea for peace comes from Israel. Action on climate change can be “a bridge to peace between Israel and the Palestinians”, says Israel’s representative, speaking on the eve of the Jewish New Year.

2146 BST – Luxembourg has made a Green Climate Fund pledge of $6.8 million.


2145 BST – “Our slogan is ‘development without destruction’,” says India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar. He is representing the third highest emitting country in the world in prime minister Narendra Modi’s absence. Modi’s government has shown tackling climate change is high priority, he says, citing initiatives to promote solar power and fund climate adaptation. India aims to cut its carbon intensity 25% from 2005 levels by 2020. But he notes that Indian citizens use a quarter the amount of fuel of people in developed countries. The challenge is to provide energy “at a cost people are able and willing to pay, with low carbon intensity”.

2143 BST – Saudi Arabia, a major oil producer, has taken the unusual step of using its platform to lash back against push for a carbon price, which their minister says will “undermine the principle of justice and equity”. He says that “Saudi Arabia believes firmly that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions must be achieved without affecting economic growth.” He says that Saudi has taken efforts towards economic diversification as a step towards more sustainable development.

2135 BST – Germany’s Barbara Hendricks quotes Franklin Roosevelt: “Peace is much more than the absence of war.” Today, she says, “there cannot be a comprehensive peace in this century if we do not take up the challenge of climate change, which is the central challenge of our time.” Germany has already pledged US$960 million to the Green Climate Fund and aims to cut emissions 40% by 2020. It is pushing for an ambitious 2030 package in Europe and will announce further measures before the next climate negotiations in Lima in December, says Hendricks.

2130 BST – Russia says that it expects to set a greenhouse gas emissions target of a 70-75% of 1990 levels by 2030. Currently, Russia is bound by the UN to reduce its emissions 15-25% below 1990 levels by 2020. It also takes a moment to expound its views on the Paris deal, where he says commitments must be equal in legal status, though different in content.

2117 BST – The Papua New Guinea government is spending US$150m on regional assistance for fellow Pacific island programmes. “Our people are battling the rising sea levels even now as I speak to you,” says foreign affairs minister Rimbink Pato. “We are committed to fellow Pacific islanders to share in their plight, because we see it as a matter of emergency.”

2106 BST – Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister, begins by defending her country’s 5% emissions reduction target, which she describes as “ambitious”. She says that the Direct Action Plan constitutes “serious domestic action” to meet this target. This is the controversial plan intended to replace the country’s abolished carbon tax. Australia will reveal its post 2020-target as part of a review of its international target, she says. She added that Australia will sign onto an HFC Declaration to reduce these short-term pollutants.


2055 BST – Climate Change Capital, an environmental asset management firm, is upbeat. James Cameron, chairman, says the call from 1,000 businesses and 73 countries to put a price on carbon is “a real step forward”. It is a “shift of consciousness moment” away from the tendency to “channel hopes and demands solely through governments,” he says. “Businesses and investors see that the threats to energy security, food and water supplies and land need to be tackled and that they should do it anyway because their actions will be profitable and for the common good.” Meanwhile, Obama’s speech seems to have gone down well with Leonardo DiCaprio.


2047 BST – The afternoon sessions have now kicked off. Taking place in two separate rooms, this is where countries not represented by heads of states or governments get the chance to speak. The number of major economies and emitters sitting in this room is significant, including Russia, India, Canada, Australia and Germany. Many viewed the decision not to send the country leader as a snub to the summit.

2046 BST – Aid agency Oxfam is underwhelmed by the “limited approach” offered by the summit to addressing the “urgent threat” of climate change. Tim Gore, head of climate policy, says: “Just days after more than half a million people around the world took to the streets to demand action on the climate crisis, today’s summit will conclude with only a partial and piecemeal response. “Some positive signals were sent, but too many of the commitments made lack vital details or are recycled. No government should leave New York thinking the job is done.” He welcomed the pledges totalling US$1.3 billion to the Green Climate Fund from France, Denmark, South Korea, Norway and Switzerland. These add to US$1 billion in the pot from Germany and Sweden. The money will go towards projects in developing countries to cut emissions or adapt to the effects of climate change. The fund is aiming to raise US$10-15 billion by the end of the year. The amounts flowing in so far are “little more than a trickle,” says Gore. “All eyes are now on those yet to pony up, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, and on the devil in the details of those pledges made today.” And the various promises made by corporations must be backed by “strong standards” to make sure their actions are more than “greenwash,” he adds. “Extreme weather continues to cost lives and ruin crops, leaving millions more at risk of hunger. This summit has not on its own done enough to protect our communities and our children’s future, but if leaders leave New York with the voices of the thousands who marched here ringing in their ears, it may yet prove a turning point.”

2042 BST – More reactions are flooding in from this morning’s session. Michael Howard, former UK Conservative Party leader, now on the board of the ECIU, said of David Cameron’s announcement: “The Prime Minister said that climate change is one of the most serious threats facing our world – a threat to national security, poverty eradication and economic prosperity. I fully agree. “The forecasts of rising sea levels, declining food production and damage to the natural world are warnings on which we have to act. “The Government is absolutely correct to be pressing for a legally binding agreement at the UN summit in Paris next year. I think it deserves our full support.”

1927 BST – The world leaders have gone for lunch with leading lights of the private sector. We’re also going to take a short break, before picking up the afternoon’s action in New York.

1901 BST – The World Resources Institute has welcomed Obama’s “personal commitment to lead”. Climate director Jennifer Morgan said: “I am encouraged by president Obama’s promise to put forth an ambitious post-2020 climate commitment early next year. Strong signals that the United States is decarbonizing its economy will set the stage for a successful outcome at the climate negotiations next year. “As growing evidence shows, investing in a low-carbon economy creates jobs, reduces air pollution and improves people’s lives. The United States now must build on the importance progress made in recent years. “The president is setting the right course with his executive order. We can’t pursue development around the world without recognizing the risks that climate change poses every day. Making sure climate resilience is built into all of our development planning is essential to combating poverty in the 21st century. “As the president made clear, we don’t have the luxury to act as though climate change isn’t happening. For the most vulnerable communities, taking action now is a matter of survival. The good news is that we have the technology and techniques in hand to both shift to the low carbon economy and build resilience to climate impacts. President Obama’s announcement today is a key step in putting those tools to use. “Better and more information about climate impacts is one of our most powerful tools to combat climate change. The president has signalled his commitment to ensure everyone around the world has access to the data they need to anticipate and protect themselves from the consequences of global warming.”

1857 BST – France has promised to match Germany’s US$1 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund. Others pledged smaller amounts, but the UK has yet to name a number. Energy minister Ed Davey told Ed King the UK will announce its part “soon”.


1849 BST – Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli said that China will reveal its post-2020 actions “as soon as we can”. These are to include actions to reduce carbon intensity, increase China’s share of non-fossil fuel based energy, and boost the country’s forest stock. He was cagey on the hotly debated issue of when China’s emissions will peak, saying only they would try to make it “as early as possible”. While he did not direct his talk quite as pointedly to the US as Obama did to China, it was clear that the old positions remain, with Zhang emphasising that the old division between developed and developing countries – embedded in the original convention – must remain in place. This is the opposite of what Obama means when he said that a new deal must apply to “developed and developing alike”. Zhang called for more action in the future, particularly from developing countries, which he said must intensify their carbon emission reductions and boost technology transfer to developing countries.

1832 BST – Oxfam is quick off the mark with reaction. Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, said Obama’s speech was “encouraging” but “US policy on the whole does not reflect the urgency of the President’s rhetoric”. “The president reemphasized the administration’s ongoing promise to meet its existing emissions targets and set new ones,” said Offenheiser. “However, it will be impossible to fulfill the agreements made in the Copenhagen Accord to keep global emissions in line with a 2 degree Celsius target without more substantial action by Congress and the President. New efforts must deliver much needed climate finance for poor countries and take further measures to reduce emissions in the US.”

1826 BST – Obama said that the US would commit to new emissions reductions targets early next year, as demanded by the UN, and will achieve its current target to cut CO2 17% by 2020. The US president also used his platform – a considerably longer time slot than was allotted to other leaders – to lay out his vision for the 2015 deal. While his talk was thin on new policy, he did not shy away from the role that the US will have to play, alongside China, if the world is to avoid dangerous warming. “As the two largest economies and emitters in the world we have a special responsibility to lead. That’s what big nations have to do,” he said. He reiterated that the new deal to be struck in Paris must be “flexible” and “inclusive” – into this you can read the long-held US position that it will only strike a deal that sees China bound by an equivalent legal framework. “Nobody can stand on the sidelines on this issue. We have to set aside the old divides,” he said.

US president Barack Obama takes the stage in New York (Screenshot, UN livestream)

US president Barack Obama takes the stage in New York
(Screenshot, UN livestream)


1758 BST – While politicians talk about the future of coal (or lack of it) in New York, 50 Greenpeace activists are occupying a coal train in the UK. They flagged down a train carrying 1,500 tonnes of coal to Cottam power station in Nottinghamshire and started unloading the wagons.



1742 BST –  Naomi Klein, author of Capitalism vs the Climate, is making the case for a “deliberate economy”. Governments need to stop trying to be “non-threatening” to business, she tells Ros Donald in New York. “The question is: are we going to have a deliberate economy in which we decide what areas we want to grow and what areas we want to contract, and what is incompatible with that is the current model of growth as a measure of progress regardless of where it comes from – that sort of short term growth. And you can see that in some of the institutions that are putting [out reports tackling green growth] like the IMF. The IMF advocates a model of growth that is antithetical to climate action and you see it happening all over Southern Europe that under pressure from the IMF they are cutting back their green energy programmes. “There is a tension between whether we’re going to intervene in the economy or not. There’s this strange denial about the kind of economy we actually have as if we have an economy that is capable of making these cost-benefit analyses that… in the long run is going to be good for growth. That’s not the kind of economy we have right now. “We hear from the Tyndall Centre that economies like the UK and US need to be cutting emissions by around 8% a year . They’re not calling for no growth they’re calling for strategic de-growth that I think is better described as a deliberate economy where we grow certain parts like the renewables industry and contract other that are in direct conflict with our emissions reduction commitments. “There’s a tendency to try to package action as non-threatening to business and I don’t think that’s helpful. Because the truth is, we are going to have to get in the way of a very large and powerful sectors of the economy and tell them they can’t do what they’re intending to do.”

1731 BST – UK prime minister David Cameron says we need “green growth not green tape”. His government is supporting “all forms of low carbon energy” – and he includes shale gas and nuclear in that category, which will upset environmentalists. “As prime minister, I pledged to lead the greenest government ever and I believe we have kept that promise.” He did not announce any new measures, but implored everyone to “seize this opportunity” to work towards a deal in 2015 that “keeps the 2C goal within reach”. That meant all countries should commit to emissions reductions, he said.




1708 BST – Men are generating more of the conversation around #Climate2014 than women. The plenary sessions are certainly dominated by men. Check out our week on gender equality in climate here.

Tweeters using #Climate2014

Tweeters using #Climate2014


1704 BST – We’ve updated our analysis of where the #Climate2014 hashtag is being used the most across the world. Yesterday, the conversation was almost entirely limited to the US, Western Europe, South America and Australia. Today it’s being used much more extensively, with Russia in particular appearing to have cottoned on to the summit. The conversation is still quiet in much of Africa and Asia, though this could reflect upon general twitter use rather than a lack of interest. map

1654 BST – The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has produced a handy map of attendance at the summit.


1653 BST – While national leaders, in the main, reiterate their existing policies, broader coalitions have announced seven areas of action. There is a declaration to halve deforestation rates by 2020 and eliminate it by 2030. Governments and financial bodies pledged to mobilise US$200 billion by 2015 to support climate programmes. Short-lived climate pollutants including methane, soot and HFCs are targeted in new initiatives.

1646 BST – Sweden is aiming for zero net emissions by 2050, says Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, with the world’s highest price on carbon. Tuvalu, though only a small island state threatened by rising seas, is determined to do its bit with clean energy.



1643 BST – The Holy See, represented not by Pope Francis on this occasion but Archbishop Pietro Parolin, stresses the moral element of battling climate change. “The Holy See has often stressed there is a moral imperative to act, for we all bear the responsibility to protect and value creation for the good of these and future generations,” he says. “Market forces alone, especially when deprived of a suitable ethical direction, are not sufficient. It is useless to speak about the reduction of emissions if we are not prepared to change our lifestyles.” He says that the Vatican, though small, is undertaking “significant efforts” to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, and also attaches great importance to furthering environmental education.

1640 BST – Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt announces a pledge of $70m to the Green Climate Fund and says the country aims to be “fossil free” by 2050.

1639 BST – Germany, Norway and the UK have issued a joint press release “renewing” their support for international forest protection schemes – but failed to give any figures. The three countries will “increase their cooperation and scale up finance for forest protection,” it said, including up to 20 new large-scale REDD+ programmes “if developing countries put forward robust, credible proposals”. They also welcomed private sector initiatives, such as Unilever’s goal to eliminate deforestation from its supply chains by 2020.

1626 BST – Norway has announced that it will provide $33 million to the Green Climate Fund, with its full contribution to be announced in November, when a pledging session is set to take place. The Netherlands is “keen to contribute” to the Fund. Some more tweets:




1619 BST – Switzerland is considering a pledge to the Green Climate Fund of “at least” US$100m. “I expect all those who are ready to do so to contribute to the capitalisation of the GCF,” says the country’s vice president.

1607 BST – President Aquino of the Philippines had a hard act to follow. At the last major UN climate event, his climate commissioner Yeb Sano brought the world to a standstill with an emotional plea following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. But Aquino’s speech fell short of making any solid promises. “Let the first concrete pledge we make be a change in mind set,” he offered. The Phillipines also has a reforestation programme and a renewable energy act.

1601 BST – Mexican president Enrique Nieto proposes an intergovernmental panel on water to help countries manage water resources. Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso says: “It is down to the industrialised countries in particular to confront the danger of climate change.”

1554 BST – Those who say that climate should be bottom of the list of the world’s concerns right now found an adversary today in the person of Iraqi president Fuad Masum. “Iraq for reasons with which you’re all familiar has had major difficulties since the outset of negotiations on climate change in 1991,” he said. But he added: “We strongly support the commendable effort to arrive at in international agreement.” Iraq has a 2013-2030 strategic plan on energy which is “adapted to nature, to climate change” and improving the life of their citizens. “We know what a hot climate is in Iraq. We are well aware of its possible consequences the world over. We’re aware of the threat of climate change and this is one of the major problems being tackled in our national strategy.”

1549 BST – Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe says that he will take new actions to ensure a “cool earth”. This includes an adaptation initiative to support developing countries, with a particular focus on small island states, and the launch of a satellite which will monitor greenhouse gas emissions and harness the data. In addition, he says Japan is “considering the possibility” of making a donation to the Green Climate Fund, and will submit its nationally determined contributions for the UN’s climate deal “as early as possible”. There was nothing on Japan’s own emissions, which have risen since the country switched from nuclear to fossil fuels after the Fukushima disaster.

1548 BST – Unsurprisingly, national leaders are not keeping to the four minute time limit. The chairs are getting stricter.


1538 BST – Former UN climate chief Yvo de Boer has just spoken to Ed King outside the conference venue. He said: “I think it’s an important moment, in the sense that I believe many politicians left Copenhagen with a climate change hangover, given how that conference went there. “They were then almost fully taken up by the financial crisis, and basically climate change has been off their radar screens since 2009. I think indications from countries that they want to be ambitious on climate change, they want to take domestic action, and most importantly that they want to see an agreement in Paris next year.” He added: “I expect significant announcements from the business community, on forests, finance and I expect a number of strong statements from countries.”

1536 BST – Here are a few snippets from national leaders’ speeches. We have seen a lot of rhetoric and descriptions of existing climate policies, but not much in the way of new pledges.




1528 BST – You can read that poem by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner of the Marshall Islands here and watch it on video.

1513 BST – The Guardian has a full transcript of Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech from earlier.

1504 BST – Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro says the capitalist model of consumption is not sustainable and we are children of Pachamama, the mother earth. Industrialised countries pushing green economy solutions “want to dress up the same capitalist formula by waving green flags in our faces,” he says. “We are indignant to these models.” Maduro cites the Margarita declaration from a civil society summit in Venezuela last month, which dismissed capitalist solutions to climate change. “If we want to change the climate, we need to change the system,” says Maduro. Meanwhile, Malawi demands net zero emissions globally by 2050 – an increasingly popular call.

1453 BST – Uganda president Museveni.


1449 BST – Finland intends to contribute its “fair share” to the Green Climate Fund – but president Niinistö leaves the space blank where a precise figure should go.

1447 BST – Francois Hollande announces France will contribute US$1 billion to the Green Climate Fund, matching Germany’s contribution. The fund, which is to help developing countries respond to climate change, is aiming to raise US$10 billion of start-up capital by the end of the year.

1437 BST – Somebody is not impressed by Brazil’s speech.


1433 BST – President Park Geun-hye of South Korea provides the first Green Climate Fund contribution of the day. She promises up to $100 million dollars, which includes the $50 million the country has already put in. South Korea is where the GCF is based, so it has a close relationship with the Fund. “We are doing our best to enlist everyone in reducing our carbon footprint,” she says, emphasising that South Korea will next year launch Asia’s first nationwide emissions trading scheme.

1431 BST – Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, says: “Brazil does not announce promises; in Brazil we show results.” The big issue in Brazil is saving trees and the government has cut deforestation 79% in the last 10 years, she says. The country is working with others in the Amazon basin and in the Congo basin to spread that action. It has promised to cut emissions 36-39% by 2020. Brazil is a major food producer and low carbon agriculture is good for yields as well as the environment, Rousseff says.

1420 BST – President Anote Tong of Kiribati, just returned from the Arctic, sounds croaky as he takes the stage. “I’ve been shouting for so long over climate change that I’ve lost my voice.” He pledges new actions to preserve the Pacific Ocean. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon recommends any people sceptical about climate change visit Kiribati, vulnerable to rising sea levels, to see the impacts that rising sea levels are already wreaking on the islands.

1419 BST – Peru president Ollanta Humala says he will will agree a new declaration on protecting forests. Peru is also planning to make mitigation commitments for a 2015 deal, despite being a developing country. It is working on new initiatives to control deforestation and illegal mining. Peru is hosting the next UN climate negotiations in December.

1417 BST – We are covering all three sessions as national leaders give their four-minute speeches. Bolivia’s Evo Morales has already overrun on time, so this could take a while. There are a lot of people and some are bound to repeat each other, so we will focus on the biggest emitters for this blog.


1411 BST – Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Union, says “climate change is one of the defining threats of our times”. He outlines actions the EU plans to take as part of its 2030 package to reduce carbon emissions, including a pledge to reduce domestic emissions by 40%. The package has yet to be finalised, but he is confident that leaders will “seal the deal” at a European Council meeting in October. He adds that over the next seven years, the EU will provide 3 billion euros in grants to support sustainable energy in developing countries.

Barroso says EU will hit March target for delivering emissions targets for 2015 deal #Climate2014 — Edward King (@rtcc_edking) September 23, 2014


1406 BST – Eight young people from across the world have made a video for Al Gore’s “Why? Why Not?” campaign.

1350 BST – Some audience response to that poem.




1344 BST – That’s the opening ceremony over. Next come the national leaders.

1343 BST – Now we have a woman chosen from among thousands of entries to speak for civil society. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands reads a poem written for her 7-month-old daughter. Her country is expected to go under water as sea levels rise, but she assures her baby: “No one will come and devour you…No one is becoming a climate change refugee, or should I say no one else.” There is wild applause as her husband joins her on stage with the baby.

1338 BST – Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and UN messenger of peace, says: “As an actor, I pretend for a living… “I believe mankind has looked at climate change in the same way, as if it was a fiction. Is if pretending climate change was not real would somehow make it go away. I think we know better now.” He calls on the leaders in the room to act. “I pretend for a living, but you don’t,” he says.

Leonardo DiCaprio was recently named a UN messenger of peace

Leonardo DiCaprio was recently named a UN messenger of peace


1334 BST – Li Bingbing, actor and UN environment ambassador, says: “I deeply care about climate change. I am keen to see leaders take immediate and ambitious action.”

Li Bingbing is a UN environmental ambassador (Pic: Wikimedia/Georges Biard)

Li Bingbing is a UN environmental ambassador (Pic: Wikimedia/Georges Biard)


1326 BST – Al Gore, chair of the Climate Reality Project, says: “We have entered a period of consequences… We are also entering a period of hope.” For those who have become cynical, he quotes poet Walter Stevens: “After the last ‘no’ comes a ‘yes’.”

1323 BST – Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, summarises the science. “We have abundant evidence we are changing our climate,” he says. “Our time for action is running out.” Emissions should peak by 2020 to limit temperature rises to 2C. He describes some of the consequences of global warming: sea level rise, flooding, storms, food insecurity. “How on earth can we leave our children with a world like this?” asks Pachauri. “There are costs to taking action, but they are nothing to the costs of inaction.”

1318 BST – Next up is Bill di Blasio, mayor of New York. Climate change is an “existential threat”, he says. “For New York, this is particularly urgent. Two years ago Hurricane Sandy left 46 dead in our city. Future storms will be far more lethal.” New York has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

1316 BST – “We are not here to talk, we are here to make history,” says Ban.

1315 BST – Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general, opens proceedings. “Climate change is the defining issue of our age,” he says. “Our response will define our future. To ride this storm, we need all hands on deck. That is why we are here today.” He asks all governments to commit to reaching a climate deal in Paris next year and do their fair share to limit global temperature rise.


1304 BST – Ed King will be tweeting from New York, if he can get in the building. Follow him on @rtcc_edking. We’re following the livestream from London. Ban Ki-moon and six others will make opening remarks before national leaders make their pledges in three parallel sessions.

1258 BST – The summit is set to start in two minutes – but journalists are still queuing to get in.


1247 BST – And because everybody loves a drone story: indigenous people in Peru and Indonesia are using the unmanned flying vehicles to monitor rainforest protection. Forest communities want to make sure governments are keeping their promises.

(Pic: #ifnotusthenwho / Joel Redman)

Villagers in Setulang, Indonesia, use a drone to monitor rainforest protection (Pic: #ifnotusthenwho / Joel Redman)


1231 BST – With half an hour to go until kick-off in New York, it’s worth noting what – and who – is not on the agenda. The Global Ocean Commission criticised Ban Ki-moon for missing oceans off the core programme, effectively ignoring two thirds of the planet. And some of the highest emitting countries have not sent a head of state to the summit. China’s Xi Jinping is giving it a miss, with vice premier Zhang Gaoli filling in. China now emits more greenhouse gases than the US and EU combined, making its contribution crucial to an effective climate deal. Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, is sending environment minister Prakash Javadekar. India has the third largest emissions of any country. The two countries have been in talks ahead of the summit, reported Nitin Sethi in India’s Business Standard. They are keen to preserve the principle that developed countries must take responsibility for their historic emissions.

1204 BST – The US State Department has published speeches from Sunday’s meeting of foreign ministers of the Major Economies Forum, which represents countries responsible for 80% of global carbon emissions. John Kerry, US secretary of state, highlighted some of the security threats associated with climate change. The problem “has an immediacy” he compared to Ebola and the Islamic State. And unlike many of the challenges that we face, when it comes to climate change we know exactly what it takes to get the job done,” he said. “The policies aren’t complicated. It’s getting the political will to make the decisions to do what we know we have to do about it. It’s as simple as that, and that is true all over the world.” Gonzalo Gutierrez, foreign minister of Peru, which hosts official UN climate negotiations in December, said his people were “watching helplessly” as glaciers melted. Responding to such radical environmental shifts “is not always possible or efficient”, he said, calling on economies to work together towards a climate deal. And Laurent Fabius, who will preside over the Paris talks next year, when a global climate deal is to be struck, said: “Things must be prepared in a way that’s both ambitious and humble, ahead of time.”

1139 BST – Not everybody is happy to see business play such a prominent role at the summit. Naomi Klein’s recently released book Capitalism vs the Climate argues a global revolution is the only way to tackle the climate crisis. That is the line picked up by the Flood Wall Street movement, which proclaims on its website: “Stop Capitalism. End the Climate Crisis.” The message has been predictably divisive. An op-ed in Canada’s Globe and Mail accused Klein of “magical thinking”. Another in Forbes said the book showed “quite extraordinary logical ignorance”. It is the main note of discord at a summit that is mainly focused on building consensus for action, regardless of who drives it.

1127 BST – Apple, Ikea and Nestle are among the multinational corporations backing sustainable growth at the summit. A report from the We Mean Business coalition published yesterday said a transition to a low carbon economy “is the only way to secure sustainable economic growth and prosperity for all”.


1121 BST – There was also a strong push for carbon pricing yesterday. Governments responsible for more than half the world’s carbon emissions support a World Bank call to put a price on climate pollution. More than 1,000 business including Shell, Lego and Nokia lent their voices to the campaign. lego

1109 BST – The key test of today’s summit will be whether it can rebuild the trust among leaders that was lost in Copenhagen five years ago, says Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

1106 BST – Yesterday saw the case against coal building. The Climate Action Tracker said phasing out the dirty fuel by 2050 could knock 0.5C off global temperature rises.

And the Carbon Tracker Initiative told RTCC investment in new mines would be financial “madness”, as global demand is slowing down, with China’s coal use expected to peak in 2016.

We could see commitments to stop building or financing coal plants, which account for 70% of power sector emissions but just 40% of electricity generated, later today.

1102 BST – Around 100 activists were arrested yesterday in the Flood Wall Street protest.

Representing the anti-capitalist faction of the climate movement, these demonstrators wore blue and threw blue powder in the air to represent the flood risks raised by climate change.

Some carried an inflatable “carbon bubble” to represent the financial risks of investing in fossil fuels.

Divestment campaigners got a boost yesterday when the Rockefeller family, which made its fortune from oil, announced plans to switch its investment from fossil fuel to clean energy. They are part of a coalition of philanthropists worth US$50 billion to sign up to the movement.

1100 BST – Good morning. This is Megan Darby in London. The big day has arrived: more than 120 world leaders are in New York for UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s climate summit.

It kicks off in two hours’ time. Actors and UN envoys Leonardo DiCaprio and Li Bingbing will give opening messages alongside Ban and other dignitaries.

Then national leaders will start announcing national pledges for climate action in three simultaneous sessions. Each leader gets four minutes to describe what their country will contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change.

This might be as simple as promising to engage with official UN climate negotiations, which are set to reach a global deal in Paris next year. That in itself will be significant coming from heads of state, who have not been widely involved in the process since the 2009 Copenhagen talks ended badly.

Ban has also encouraged leaders to make specific commitments. These could include finance to help developing countries respond to climate change, moves to phase out coal and protection for forests.

After a lunch in New York, there will be themed sessions. A series of announcements are expected on multilateral efforts to capitalise the Green Climate Fund, cut short-lived climate pollutants and promote access to renewable energy, among other topics.

We will be covering all the action, so stay tuned.

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