Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

Just a small step in the right direction

23/09/2009 - by Marianne Bom

In words, world leaders expressed will to combat global warming with a global treaty at the UN summit on climate yesterday in New York. However, concrete commitments were too scarce to break the deadlock of the negotiations leading to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

"While the summit is not the guarantee that we will get the global agreement, we are certainly one step closer to that global goal today," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the close of the meeting.

Observers focused on the action offered by the two top greenhouse gas emitters, the US and China, responsible for about 40 percent of global emissions. Chinese President Hu Jintao presented a new plan to tackle China's emissions, tying them to economic growth, but specific Chinese figures are still not on the table. US President Barack Obama made a "rallying cry", according to Reuters, as he outlined the change of US climate policy since his administration took over in January. He committed will to act – but offered no new proposals and the political reality is that it is unknown when the US Senate will decide on climate legislation.

Activists and analysts recognized the positive efforts of world leaders to jump start negotiations, but were disappointed by the lack of substance to build a new treaty on. It became obvious at the UN summit, that governments around the world face difficulties in delivering the action expected by environmentalists and recommended by climate scientists at the UN conference in Copenhagen.