Sunday, May 08, 2016

Why Outgoing U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon Was Willing to Bet Big on a Climate Change Deal

Ban Ki-moon, the globetrotting secretary-general of the United Nations, sat inside the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on a rainy morning this week, sounding relaxed and reflective.

One floor below, the ballrooms were bustling with business leaders, academics and government officials, who had gathered for a Climate Action 2016 summit.  Their goal: Figuring out how countries can live up to the landmark climate agreement negotiated in December in Paris by hastening changes in the ways they produce and consume energy.
“From day one, I made climate change the top priority,” the bespectacled, 71-year-old diplomat said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post.  “There were many crises around the world, even at that time.  But I thought that all these crises, these political crises, could be solved,” he said, in part by forging a global pact to stave off the crippling droughts, rising seas and extreme weather events that were helping to fuel conflicts.

It was a long, fitful and, at times, frustrating process.  A low point came at a 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, when a raucous final day failed to yield a formal multinational agreement.
The years that followed, he said, brought a fundamental shift.  The science became ever more clear that global warming was beginning to alter the Earth’s climate, and that those changes would likely accelerate if greenhouse gas emissions continued unabated.  Many world leaders became more “conversant” about climate change and more willing to take on the issue, Ban said.  Citizens in many countries became more vocal in demanding action, perhaps most notably during a September 2014 march in New York City that drew hundreds of thousands of people.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is accompanied by a Chilean air force officer upon landing at arriving in Antarctica in 2007. He has traveled around the world, seeing firsthand places affected by changes in the Earth’s climate. (Credit: Rodrigo Aragua/AFP/Getty) Click to Enlarge.
Ban also kept a spotlight on the issue.  He is perhaps the only world leader to have seen firsthand the melting ice of Antarctica and Greenland, the drought-ravaged Aral Sea, and the disappearing Pacific island nation of Kiribati, which like some other small island countries, is slowly being swallowed by rising sea levels.
Ban’s term as U.N. chief expires later this year.  He said that even after he steps down, he will look for ways to ensure that the Paris agreement is implemented in coming years, and that countries take even more aggressive actions over time.  But he knows it will be up to another U.N. leader — and hundreds of leaders around the globe — to make sure that promises become reality.

Read more at Why Outgoing U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon Was Willing to Bet Big on a Climate Change Deal

No comments:

Post a Comment