WASHINGTON – New York will be at the epicenter of the climate change debate next week. More than 120 world leaders will attend a one-day summit on Tuesday at the United Nations on climate. Tens of thousands are expected to march to call for action on global warming. Dozens of other events are planned throughout the city as part of Climate Week NYC. Here are 5 things you need to know:
1. THE SUMMIT IS NOT PART OF THE FORMAL NEGOTIATION PROCESS FOR A NEW TREATY.
The one-day summit was organized by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as a way to galvanize political momentum for a new international treaty, but it falls outside the formal negotiation process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The last negotiations failed to produce a binding agreement in Copenhagen in 2009. The goal is for the world to agree to a new deal at the end of 2015 at a meeting in Paris.
2. MAJOR EMITTERS OF HEAT-TRAPPING GASES ARE NOT EXPECTED TO OFFER NEW TARGETS.
Both U.S. officials and a Chinese delegate have said no new emissions reduction targets will be proposed at the summit for the years beyond 2020, which was the deadline developed countries used to set emissions reductions plans after Copenhagen. Instead, a series of new initiatives between governments, companies and environmental groups are expected to be announced next week, tackling deforestation, methane leaks from natural gas production and the greening of agriculture and freight.
3. THE SUMMIT CONVENES AS EVIDENCE MOUNTS THAT THE EARTH’S TEMPERATURE IS NOT STABILIZING.
In Copenhagen, countries agreed to work toward containing the Earth’s temperature rise to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels. That threshold is almost out of reach. Greenhouse gas emissions globally continue to rise.
4. THE U.S. HEADS TO THE SUMMIT IN A STRONG POSITION.
President Barack Obama will speak at the climate summit armed with some of the most significant steps the U.S. has ever taken on global warming. With U.S. greenhouse gas emissions down 10 per cent in 2012 from 2005 levels, the U.S. is on its way to meet the 17 per cent reduction by 2020 from 2005 levels it pledged after Copenhagen. The administration is hoping to leverage its actions – from reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles to proposing to curb carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants for the first time – to get other countries to act.
5. THE SUMMIT IS THE CLIMAX OF A WEEK OF CLIMATE ACTIVITIES.
Politicians won’t be the only power brokers in New York City this week. On Sunday, major environmental groups and labour organizations have organized what they say is the largest march ever on global warming. The rest of the week will be filled with activities for New York’s climate week, featuring celebrities, CEOs and climate scientists.