Hope is not the first emotion that strikes ahead of a global climate summit. We have seen them come and go with a mix of scepticism and disappointment. The fact that we have been incapable of making tangible progress in tackling an issue essential to our very survival is a downright fiasco.
But today it seems that there is hope.
Over 600,000 people from around 156 countries took to the streets to show that this matters to them. I saw a massive online social media campaign spread like wildfire where individuals from across the world joined to show that the time to take climate action has come. I also saw friends like Kofi Annan and Graça Machel and colleagues from around the world raise their voices in a call for meaningful action today.
The UN Climate Summit in New York concluded with an unexpected sense of determination. Never before have so many leaders gathered to commit to action on climate change.
France and Germany generously pledged 1 billion dollars each. All in all, leaders agreed to mobilize more than US$200 billion worth of financial assets by the end of 2015. For the first time, indications of stronger strides in the right direction came from the U.S. and China, particularly in terms of their responsibility to lead on efforts to curb emissions.
Beyond the financial pledges and the political leadership, several concrete projects to curb emissions were announced: 24 of world's leading global producers of palm oil and commodities traders committed to contribute to the goal of zero net forestation by 2020. Some of the world's largest meat and agriculture retailers committed to adapting their supply chain.
Who could have imagined this level of commitment, partnership and practical paths forward when the Climate Summit in Copenhagen collapsed just five years ago?
So it seems that leaders can rise to the challenge before them. In New York, they promised to reach a meaningful, universal agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP-21, in Paris in 2015. In principle this sounds good. Many will argue that is still not enough but it is a step in the right direction. So we cannot ease the pressure. We need to make sure these promises don't fade into good intentions. We need actions that will ultimately save our planet. Every single one of us has a responsibility to keep up the pressure for action. We can do it!
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