The United Nations bolsters a global community committed to climate change action by holding a special summit this September.

On the United Nations 2019 Summit on Climate Change and Action

ISSUE • The Environment
PLACE • New York, NY, USA
DATE • September 23, 2019
ORGANIZATION • United Nations

State of Event

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has convened a UN Climate Summit for September of 2019, with the proposed theme, ‘A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win.’ The Summit will draw from the commitment to climate change action the Secretary-General outlined in a September 2018 speech, the full text of which is provided here as well as via video below, both made available by the United Nations.

As may be evident in the speech, Guterres intends to take as foundations for global efforts both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 2016 Paris Agreement crafted within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These prior efforts and their documented agreements are understood here to have set clear, attainable objectives for climate action across nations — goals that have nevertheless proven complex to coordinate, operationalize, and durably support.

“Let us use the next year for transformational decisions in boardrooms, executive suites and parliaments across the world. Let us raise our sights, build coalitions and make our leaders listen. I commit myself, and the entire United Nations, to this effort. We will support all leaders who rise to the challenge I have outlined today.”

The 2019 Summit is therefore meant to serve as a catalyst: to further spur member nations — as well as trans- and international regions, cities and towns, enterprises and institutions, investors, public officials and citizens — to actively support and carry out climate action remedies.

The Summit’s stated areas of specific interest include energy transition, climate finance and carbon pricing, industry transition, nature-based solutions, cities and local action, and resilience.

“Dear friends, there is no more time to waste. As the ferocity of this summer’s wildfires and heatwaves shows, the world is changing before our eyes. We are careening towards the edge of the abyss.”

It is worth taking the time with the announcement speech to note how Secretary-General Guterres has positioned himself — and the United Nations organization — as a powerful, incessant and possibly persuasive voice on the matter of climate action. This positioning of the UN is not without both ardent supporters and diplomatic as well as policy friction. As of the Summit’s announcement, not all UN member nations are party to the Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocol.

Furthermore, the cosignatories of both accords have also had to receive news of announcements, in 2017 and 2001 respectively, of the United States’s withdrawal from their hitherto agreed-upon schedule of climate-sensitive incentives and restrictions. Still, planning for the 2019 Summit at the UN’s New York City headquarters continues. And this particularly resonant section of Guterres’s speech remains a guide for its agenda:

“It is not too late to shift course, but every day that passes means the world heats up a little more and the cost of our inaction mounts. Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants — a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on earth.”

“Our fate is in our hands. The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late. I count on you all.”

The United Nations and its Secretary-General have with this mandate invited Member Nations and potential partners to their headquarters in New York City.

And they offer further details and updates on ongoing preparations for the UN Summit via the event’s official site.

Sources & Further

For this article’s sources, and further reading on the issues raised by the United Nations Climate Summit, we encourage you to visit not only the official sites of the United Nations itself and its 2019 Summit on Climate Action, but also and most importantly, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
There you will be provided access to the originating documents and ongoing updates on two key subsets of the Framework: namely, the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. We also provide here access to official US White House transcripts of, first, an Announcement and Discussion by United States President George W Bush regarding Global Climate Change (June 2001) and, second, a Statement by United States President Donald J Trump on the Paris Climate Accord (June 2017). Both transcripts will help provide a sense of the then specified rationale for the Presidents’s withdrawal of the United States from the Kyoto and Paris accords.
An additional framework utilized by the UN Secretary-General for the Summit draws directly and explicitly from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as they were originally declared, and as they have been continually revisited and revised, for example, as we see in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015). Access to an assortment of activities engendered by the declaration and revision of these Goals can be had via the official United Nations site for Sustainable Development.
Finally, we provide access to the official transcript of United Nations Secretary-General Guterres’s Remarks on Climate Change (September 2018) along with its video recording. And we point you to a growing compilation of speeches on climate change given by Secretary-General Guterres.

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