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Climate days in New York, what can we expect?

There is an increasing global awareness about the need to take climate change seriously. Actually, this knowledge has been known for quite some time, and many governments around the world are already taking initiatives to reduce emissions, and to transform their countries into low carbon economies. Still science tells us that there is need to do more, a lot more.

The coming days in New York the need “to do more” is in focus. For several days a big number of events and meetings will address the need to increase the global climate ambition. But will all these meetings make a difference? Let us browse through the main events.

Donor meeting on climate finance

On Sunday (21/9) the US, invites donor countries to an informal meeting about climate finance. It is of course good to put climate finance on the agenda, but it is unfortunate that they discuss this issue in a closed meeting. Climate finance is one of the main priorities for the least developed countries, and they are not invited. There are probably many important issues to discuss between donor countries, but when the agenda is linked to the UNFCCC talks, it is a bad signal to close the doors.

Major Economies Forum

Later on Sunday, some of the participants in the donor meeting move on to a two day meeting with the Major Economies Forum. This forum has the broader UNFCCC talks on their agenda. The forum consists of both developed and developing countries, and as such it is a good platform to address difficult issues.

However, again this kind of closed talks makes it difficult for smaller countries to follow. The UN talks should be open, and all parties should have a say. If deals are made in separate, and closed, forums outside the UN context, the principles of the UN are undermined.

The Interfaith summit

But it is not only governments meeting in New York. Also on Sunday, high level religious leaders from different parts of the world, meet at the Interfaith summit. This meeting will unify religions, in a joint call for increased climate ambition. Care for the creation is an important theme in most religions.

People’s climate march

At the same time, also on Sunday, people will gather in the streets of New York. The biggest climate march ever is expected to move along the streets of Manhattan. More than 100.000 people are expected, and there will be all kinds of people - old, young, families, students, workers, civil society organizations, and politicians. Even the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, has declared that he will join the people on the streets.

The Climate Summit

The reason why all these meetings are organized in New York, during these days, is the fact that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has invited to a Climate Summit, on Tuesday, the 23rd of September. The climate summit will be attended by heads of states, and it will be used to boost the climate debate, and to make a push for increased ambition. There won’t be any actual negotiation, but heads of states will present what their countries intend to do, and we can look forward to a long list of new initiatives.

What can we expect?

New York will be full of “climate noise” during the coming days. Governments, NGOs and private companies will take the opportunity to present their plans, positions and ideas. That will hopefully build hope, engagement and faith in the process to transform our societies and countries to a low carbon development. However, we should also remember, that these days won’t be a platform for real negotiation. The hard work to build consensus, and to agree about what should be done, is taken forward in the ordinary UNFCCC talks, where the next session begin in a few weeks, in Bonn.

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