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UN Climate Summit: Nelson Mandela’s widow says leaders should step up the ambition



Graça Machel, widow of former South African president Nelson Mandela, has said that the world leaders gathered in New York for the UN Climate Summit have shown too little concern compared to the seriousness of the threats posed by climate change and called for more action.

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Speaking after a number of personalities representing 120 countries, which renewed their promises to tackle climate change and switch to greener economies, Machel quickly placated the enthusiasm.

She said, “There is a huge mismatch between the magnitude of the challenge and the response we heard here today. The scale is much more than we have achieved.

“Can we genuinely say we are going to preserve their lives, and ensure their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren inherit a planet which is safe and sustainable?

The event saw leaders of the US, UK, France, China and many other countries reporting on domestic progress made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of the crucial climate talks in Paris in 2015, where it is hoped the world will agree on a binding agreement on climate change.

China and the US said they “have a responsibility to lead” action and pledged to reduce their emissions.

In a strong speech, which surprised campaigners for mismatching actions at home, UK’s prime minister David Cameron said green growth meant, “fighting against the economically and environmentally perverse fossil fuel subsidies, which distort free markets and rip off taxpayers”.

The summit, which was preceded by a massive People’s Climate March in hundreds of countries, also saw actor and UN climate representative Leonardo DiCaprio reiterating that “clean air and water, and a liveable climate are inalienable human rights”.

Photo: GovernmentZA via flickr

Further reading:

UN climate summit opens in New York

People’s Climate March: 600,000 demand climate action

Ban Ki-Moon to take part to climate march during UN climate summit

China and US promise to lead climate change fight

DiCaprio: ‘solving climate change is not about politics, it’s about survival’


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