World leaders pledge billions of dollars on climate change

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Agencies via Shanghai Daily, September 24, 2014
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Challenged by the United Nations chief to set a new course for a warming globe and reverse the rise of heat-trapping gases, world leaders yesterday made promises of billions of dollars and better care of planet Earth.

China's Li Bingbing, actress and Goodwill Ambassador, speaks at the opening of the United Nations Climate Summit yesterday in New York. [Photo/Xinhua]

The one-day summit at the annual UN General Assembly gathering yesterday of more than 100 leaders was designed to lay the groundwork for a new global treaty to tackle climate change in December 2015.

"Today we must set the world on a new course," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in opening remarks. "Climate change is the defining issue of our age. It is defining our present. Our response will define our future."

And world leaders took over with the first of many of the non-binding pledges, promising by mid-morning a total of at least US$5 billion to help the world become more sustainable. That often includes turning away from the burning of coal, oil and gas and away from the destruction of the carbon-absorbing forests.

The European Union offered a rare proposal -- specific targets beyond 2020 -- saying its member nations would cut greenhouse gases so that by 2030 they would be 40 percent below the 1990 level.

The vow also calls for using renewable energy for 27 percent of the bloc's power needs and to increase energy efficiency by 30 percent.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, stressed it could be done without harming the economy. He said over the next seven years, the European Union would provide nearly US$3.9 billion to help developing countries become more sustainable. "The European Union is on track to meet our targets and at same time we have seen our economy grow," Barroso. "We prove climate protection and a strong economy must go hand in hand."

France for its part promised US$1 billion. South Korea pledged US$100 million. Others, like Chile, pledged cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Ban, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, former US Vice President Al Gore and Rajendra K. Pachauri, who headed the Nobel Prize-winning panel of scientists who studied the issue, warned that time was short.

DiCaprio, the actor turned UN ambassador on climate change, echoed The World Bank in calling for nations to put a pricetag or tax on carbon to pressure people and countries to cut back.

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