The United Nations will host the 2014 Climate Summit on September 23rd in its headquarters in New York City. Over 120 Heads of State will be come together at the UN Climate Summit, along with world leaders in business, finance, and civil society to share ideas and spark climate action. The Summit’s goal is to put climate change at the forefront of international agenda and will provide countries and businesses the opportunity to show what they are doing and what they plan to do in regards to climate change. Climate change is no longer a problem of the future; it is here now and poses a real threat to our world and our world’s future. This is a global issue and through global teamwork we must strive to invent and implement cleaner and stronger solutions for our economies. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked leaders “to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that will reduce emissions, strength climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.” This will be the largest gathering in history that focuses on tackling climate change. Ban Ki-moon acknowledges that this one day Summit “will not solve the problem of climate change by itself, but it can be an important turning point.”
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate issued a report, “Better Growth, Better Climate,”on Tuesday that concludes that reducing climate change need not curtail economic growth. Chairman Felipe Calderon describes the report as “one of the most comprehensive economic analyses ever done on the subject” and explains the group believes there is a widespread misconception that “taking action on climate implies huge economic costs. Therefore, there is a belief that we have to choose between economic growth and mitigating climate.” The report concluded that it is possible to have a better climate and have economic growth, to reduce poverty and create jobs, all while reducing carbon emissions that are threatening our world’s future. Calderon admits that this will require some “fundamental changes and hard choices.” Calderon predicts the next 15 years will prove critical in creating a path to a low-carbon way of life, with some $90 trillion being invested in developing low-carbon infrastructures. While the transition may not be painless, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges “we can no longer afford to burn our way to prosperity. We need a structural transformation in the global economy.”
The “Better Growth, Better Climate” report makes 10 recommendations for decision makers.
- Integrate climate into key economic decisions;
- Enter into a “strong, lasting and equitable” international climate agreement;
- Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs and incentives for urban sprawl;
- Introduce predictable carbon prices;
- Cut capital costs for low-carbon infrastructure investments;
- Encourage innovation in low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies;
- Encourage planners to build cities that are more connected and more densely populated;
- Halt deforestation by 2030;
- Restore at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forest or agricultural land by 2030;
- Move quickly to phase out polluting coal-fired power generation.
So how does the Climate Summit relate to big cats? The ideas and actions to be taken coming away from the Summit will directly impact big cats. One of the biggest reasons why so many species of big cats have seen their populations dwindle is due to deforestation for human development and expansion. This is why the two recommendations above are highlighted in red, because these actions will have a huge impact on the conservation of big cats. Restoring lost or degraded forest would reestablish and expand current big cat territories. Climate change itself also poses major threats to big cats, just like it does humans. Perhaps the most serious long term threat to snow leopards is climate change. As global temperatures rise, snow lines recede and force snow leopards to live further up the mountain, decreasing their available habitat and prey. Rising sea levels resulting from climate change threaten to wipe out forests on the Indian Ocean coast in India and Bangladesh that are home to one of the largest tiger populations.
As world leaders meet next week, what can you do to help? Below is a chart that shows simple steps you can take in your personal and work life to do your part in helping with climate change. Visit the UN’s website to learn more ways you can Take Action!