In a plea to the delegates present, Secretary-General opened the Summit saying, "Climate change is the pre-eminent geopolitical and economic issue of the 21st century. It rewrites the global equation for development, peace and security.” He countered claims that addressing global warming comes at too high a price tag and said, “They are wrong. The opposite is true. We will pay an unacceptable price if we do not act now.” He urged developed nations to take the first steps forward, with developing nations also needing to make strides. He said, “All countries must do more -- now.”
President Obama said, ". . .the threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it -- boldly, swiftly, and together -- we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe. . . No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. . . The security and stability of each nation and all peoples -- our prosperity, our health, and our safety -- are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out. . .
"I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history. We are making our government's largest ever investment in renewable energy -- an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years. . . Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge. . .
"Most importantly, the House of Representatives passed an energy and climate bill in June that would finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy for American businesses and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One committee has already acted on this bill in the Senate and I look forward to engaging with others as we move forward. . . We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations. But though many of our nations have taken bold action and share in this determination, we did not come here to celebrate progress today. We came because there's so much more progress to be made. We came because there's so much more work to be done. . .
"We also cannot allow the old divisions that have characterized the climate debate for so many years to block our progress. Yes, the developed nations that caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century still have a responsibility to lead -- and that includes the United States. And we will continue to do so -- by investing in renewable energy and promoting greater efficiency and slashing our emissions to reach the targets we set for 2020 and our long-term goal for 2050.
"But those rapidly growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part, as well. Some of these nations have already made great strides with the development and deployment of clean energy. Still, they need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own. We cannot meet this challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act together. There's no other way.
"We must also energize our efforts to put other developing nations -- especially the poorest and most vulnerable -- on a path to sustained growth. . . And that is why we have a responsibility to provide the financial and technical assistance needed to help these nations adapt to the impacts of climate change and pursue low-carbon development. What we are seeking, after all, is not simply an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. We seek an agreement that will allow all nations to grow and raise living standards without endangering the planet. . .
"Mr. Secretary, as we meet here today, the good news is that after too many years of inaction and denial, there's finally widespread recognition of the urgency of the challenge before us. We know what needs to be done. We know that our planet's future depends on a global commitment to permanently reduce greenhouse gas pollution. We know that if we put the right rules and incentives in place, we will unleash the creative power of our best scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs to build a better world. . ."
Access a lengthy release from the UN with links to the Secretary-General's comments and more (click here). Access the full text of the President's address (click here). Access the Summit website for complete information including the background, the program, text and video statements from delegates, and much more (click here). Access the Climate Week NYC website for extensive information (click here).