Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 4 May 2014—More than 1,000 participants, including 100 government ministers, have gathered in Abu Dhabi to chart new routes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening climate resilience.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is co-hosting the two-day Abu Dhabi Ascent with the United Arab Emirates to prepare for and build commitment ahead of his Climate Summit on 23 September in New York.

“The Abu Dhabi Ascent reflects the momentum that is growing in how the world is confronting the climate challenge,” the UN Secretary-General said. “There is a real sense that change is in the air. Climate solutions exist. The race is on. It”s time for leaders to lead.

“The Abu Dhabi Ascent is bringing together the people that can usher in a new era of climate action. By forging new relationships and scaling up initiatives, the Abu Dhabi Ascent will provide the launch pad for a Summit that promotes prosperous economies while tackling climate change head-on.”

His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nayhan, foreign minister of the UAE, said: “We are living in an interconnected world and what affects one country affects us all. That is why the UAE strongly believes in collaboration and multilateral initiatives. No country can combat climate change on its own. But together we have the ability to achieve tangible and successful results.

“In the UAE we have worked hard to ensure the long-term prosperity, growth and welfare of our people. Based on this vision, we have invested locally, regionally and internationally in projects, solutions and programmes, that help mitigate climate change. We are proud that our pioneering efforts have encouraged other countries in the region to embrace clean technology.”

Sheikh Abdullah added: “Our national objectives include producing 24 per cent of our electricity from carbon-free sources by 2021. Through Masdar’s projects we have achieved big progress in the field of solar energy, including the commissioning of Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant, with a capacity of 100MW. We have also commissioned the first phase of the 1000MW HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar complex.”

More than 1,100 participants have registered for the meeting, including 70 government ministers. They will be greeted with remarks by Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minster of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, the Secretary-General, and a keynote address by former United States Vice President Al Gore.

Participants will then engage in highly focused consultations on key areas where climate action is critical, including increasing the use of renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, reducing emissions from transportation, and deploying climate smart agriculture. Discussions will also focus on initiatives to address deforestation, short-lived climate pollutants, climate finance, resilience and improving the infrastructure of cities.

In the recently released reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists found that climate change is happening and is have consequential impacts on every continent. They found that if no action is taken, the world is on a trajectory to warm at a rate that will reach dangerous levels by mid-century.

But the IPCC also found that there are many pathways still available that will limit the impacts of climate change. It stressed that action would need to start now, and that waiting would be even more costly.

The options toward a low-carbon future include the phase-out of coal and other fossil fuels and a sharp increase in the use of renewable energy sources, accompanied by new technologies that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The IPCC report identified energy, transport, buildings and agriculture as areas where action is essential for limiting the impacts of climate change.

The Secretary-General has invited world leaders from government, business, finance and civil society to the Climate Summit to announce their ambitious vision rooted in concrete action to address climate change. A focus on climate action in 2014 could play a major role in boosting the political will to reach a global agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.

The Climate Summit is aimed at catalyzing action and is not part of the negotiating process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Abu Dhabi Ascent is the only opportunity at the global level for participants to prepare for the Climate Summit. For many, the Ascent will be an opportunity to learn how they can engage in action initiatives for the Summit. There will be no formal outcome of the Abu Dhabi Ascent—the outcomes will be reflected in the ambition and actions announced at the Climate Summit in New York.

For more information, please contact Dan Shepard, UN Department of Public Information, shepard@un.org, 1 646 675-3286 or Dan Thomas from the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, daniel.thomas@un.org, 1-917 520-8842