Abu Dhabi, 4 May 2014 — Action taken now to address climate change can provide the foundation for sustainable economic growth, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a two-day meeting aimed at forging new initiatives that will be announced at the Climate Summit this September.
“If we do not take urgent action, all our plans for increased global prosperity and security will be undone,” Mr. Ban told the 1,000 participants of the Abu Dhabi meeting.
The Ascent marks a shift toward promoting practical, implementable actions that can help improve people’s lives while also reducing emissions and building resiliency against future impacts of climate.
“We need to help by proving that climate action now means opening a world of opportunity,” Mr. Ban said. “The benefits of addressing climate change include reduced pollution, improved public health, fewer disasters, less poverty, cleaner, more efficient and affordable energy, better managed forests, liveable cities and increased food security.”
“The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is unsettling, yet encouraging,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change.
“Unsettling, because we are running out of time to reverse the effects of global warming. And encouraging, because permanent consequences can be averted.”
He added, “This is the very challenge that has compelled the Secretary General to call for action, through the Abu Dhabi Ascent and the Climate Summit.”
Many of the solutions needed to address climate change already exist, Mr. Ban told the opening of the Abu Dhabi Ascent, but there is a need to deploy them at a scale that matches the challenge.
“And we need to do it now, because we may not get a second chance. The longer we delay, the more we will pay.”
“We face a moment of decision,” former United States Vice-President Al Gore said, adding that “we have the solutions at hand.”
He cited the extraordinary and unpredicted growth of renewable energy, to the point where renewables have achieved cost parity with other energy sources in 79 countries. “It is an unstoppable revolution.”
“This Ascent is so crucial,” Mr. Gore said, coming at a critical time when momentum to climate action was gaining.
At the Abu Dhabi Ascent, representatives from governments, business and civil society are looking at the possibilities for engagement in nine action areas that are ripe for climate action. They include energy, cities and transport, finance, resilience, agriculture and short-lived climate pollutants.
“It gives you a chance to experience the wealth of opportunity that exists so you can leave here ready to join others in acting,” the Secretary-General told the participants.
UN General Assembly President John Ashe said that “after years of meetings in diverse corners of the globe to discuss, argue, exchange views, share experiences and – at times – negotiate on climate change, the question my now seventeen-year-old son asked me in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy on the New York area, still haunts me today: “Dad, are we any closer to reaching an agreement that will address climate change or are we in danger of falling even further behind?”