The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Sticking the Boot in for Climate Action

30 November 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

On the eve of the opening in Paris of the United Nations climate change conference, widely known as COP21, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all countries and all sectors of society to act now to reach a new universal climate agreement.

“I'm reasonably optimistic and convinced that world leaders will adopt a very ambitious universal climate change agreement at this COP21,” Mr Ban told the UN News Centre in an interview on Sunday at the Parisian headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

“We've been working very hard, very long – the time for action is now. I have seen growing political momentum among member states. They know that they have to take action.”

Ahead of COP21, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the UN entity organising the conference – has already received some 180 voluntary climate action plans from countries. Formally called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, these will form the basis of the agreement expected to be reached.

As more and more INDCs were submitted, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said this shows nations are prepared to take meaningful action to address climate change. Many countries have also indicated they would like to see a mechanism in the agreement that will allow them to ramp up their ambition to reach the goal of limiting a global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.


2 degrees

According to experts, a temperature rise beyond this level will cause irreversible damage to the planet by exacerbating droughts, floods, food and water shortages, affecting the most vulnerable countries first. Despite the scientific community acknowledging that the national pledges submitted so far will not limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius, Mr Ban has underscored that a successful outcome at COP21 would allow the world to ultimately achieve this target.


Conference start

Today (Nov 30), around 150 Heads of State and Government are expected at the opening event at the Paris-Le Bourget site, an 18 hectare conference centre north-east of the capital. This space will be the main venue for the two-week meeting, with 32 'negotiating rooms,' working areas for delegations, civil society and journalists, as well as many venues dedicated to side events.

Simultaneously, within the city borders, special events will be held – such as an afternoon with Robert Redford at UNESCO on 6 December and the awarding of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Equator prize – often referred to as the Academy Awards of sustainable development – taking place at the renowned Théatre Mogador.

At the conference, the interconnectivity between sustainable development and climate issues will be one of the overarching themes. In September, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is composed of 17 goals – the SDGs – to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

Asked how a new climate deal and these SDGs are linked, the UN Secretary-General said a strong climate agreement backed by action on the ground will help the world achieve the global goals to make the world better and safer. “Goal number 13 [focuses on] climate change but if we do not implement the climate change agreement, then all the remaining 16 goals will be affected. Not a single goal can be implemented in isolation,” Mr. Ban explained.

“Science has made it plainly clear – that this climate change phenomenon is caused by human behaviour,” he continued. “It's only natural that we human beings should change our behaviour in a sustainable way. We have to do it. We don't have any time to lose. That's why I am urging world leaders to demonstrate their moral and political leadership for humanity.”


All in the boat

The UN News Centre asked the Secretary-General what makes him optimistic that, in a world full of disease, war and famine, world leaders can work together instead of in their own self-interest. “Climate change doesn't care about national boundaries,” he stated. “This is a global phenomenon and leaders understand that investing wisely in climate change will help their national economy boost. There are many countries who are investing in sustainable energy including solar energy. It's skyrocketing.”


Failure not an option

Mr Ban met also with French President François Hollande to discuss the status of negotiations and agree that failure to reach an agreement was not an option as it would have disastrous consequences.


Sticking the boot in

Mr Ban joined the people of Paris who were unable to join a climate march, after it was cancelled last week due to security concerns. Alongside scores of other people, he donated a pair of his 'marching shoes' to be placed at the city's Place de la République where the climate march was due to start. Following the event, the thousands of shoes contributed were donated to a non-governmental organisation working with Syrian refugees.

Picture: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to the UN News Centre ahead of the UN climate change conference in Paris, France. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

Article written by UN News Centre | Published 30 November 2015


Related Articles

Historic Day for Climate Undermined by Lack of Big-boy Action

As 175 world leaders signed the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Headquarters on April 22 and over the weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the next critical...

 Read Full Article
Tree Huggers and Tree Planters Join Earth Day

Today (Fri 22) is the 46th anniversary of Earth Day a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action. However, the...

 Read Full Article
Dutch Emissions Ruling Opens Door for Governments to be Brought to Book

This Wednesday (June 24) a district court of the Hague in the Netherlands ruled that the Dutch government was legally obliged to meet a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas...

 Read Full Article
Data Centres - A Better Climate for Business

A report has shown that the Climate Change Agreement for UK data centres is already having a beneficial impact. The report, which was unveiled at a meeting organised by...

 Read Full Article
The 100 Billion Dollar Carbon Commitment - Malkin Mouths On Monster Deal

Planet First's Steve Malkin says that following a landmark UN agreement, carbon management has finally moved to priority status in the property sector following $100...

 Read Full Article
Illuminating the Climate Change Debate - See Video

In the lead up to this week's Climate Summit, the UN's New York Headquarters become a canvas for a work entitled 'llluminations - Protecting Our Planet' -...

 Read Full Article
Corporate Societal Impact - What Are The Measures?

A study has examined the methods companies use to measure their impact on society. The Conference Board (with bases in a number of countries) has released a study with...

 Read Full Article
Plugging In To The Charging Market

FM provider ABM?UK has reached an agreement with ChargePoint, the electric vehicle (EV) charging network. ABM now has the rights to distribute, install and maintain...

 Read Full Article
Breathing Life Into London's Lungs As Pollution Death Rate Rises

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has strengthened his commitment to protect London’s Green Belt and other important open spaces for future generations and set out...

 Read Full Article
RBS Swings Environmental Axe In National Tree Week

In one year, the energy saving additive EndoTherm has helped RBS to reduce its energy consumption by 29% and carbon emissions by 10 tonnes. The new innovation, a...

 Read Full Article