24

24, not the TV series about tough-guy Jack Bauer battling against all odds to save the world from terrorists… but close – the one day UN climate summit in New York being held today.

The stakes could not be higher, according to UN president Ban Ki-moon:

“Climate change is a defining issue of our age, of our present. Our response will define our future. To ride this storm we need all hands on deck. That is why we are here today. We need a clear vision. The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable. We have never faced such a challenge, nor such an opportunity…”

In his address to the summit, head of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri warned:

“Acting on climate change is not a choice between the economy and the environment. The path to change is clear. It leads to a global agreement next year in Paris. To those who have grown cynical about the process, I would remind you of the words of the great poet Wallace Stevens: after the final no, comes a yes. All we need is political will. But political will is a renewable resource.”

This summit is just to set the agenda for the next major round of climate talks in Paris next year. Where previous climate talks have largely done just that and only that, the next round must deliver. Earlier this week 40,000 people protested in central London alone, around the world it was millions while earlier this year the Conservative party vowed to end subsidies for the most cost effective source of renewable energy available  – wind. Going even further David Cameron (of the ‘greenest Government ever‘ – remember that?) said he wanted to “eradicate” existing wind farms and ensure no new ones are built. While at the same time his own Department for Energy and Climate Change issued this statement:

“Onshore wind is the cheapest form of large-scale renewable electricity and forms an important part of our energy mix – our ambition is to develop up to 13GW by 2020, which would power 7 million homes.”

When Leonardo DiCaprio addressed the world leaders at today’s summit he could very well have been talking straight to the climate-change-deniers in Cameron’s party:

“As an actor I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems.I believe humankind has looked at climate change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.”

With a General Election looming next year the question is – which party will actually face up to the biggest challenge facing mankind today?