An international Greenpeace contingent attended yesterday's high level UN meeting on climate change. Athena was there and felt compelled to put down her thoughts on the meeting. Here they are:
My name is Athena and I have been called a climate “policy wonk,” having followed the climate negotiating process for almost 15 years. Today though I write as a mother...
While waiting for the opening of the UN High Level Summit on Climate Change here in New York, the cheerful faces of my three children Gab, Gio and Gavin keep flashing into my mind.
They have been my inspiration, my driving force...ensuring their safe future and a healthy environment for them to grow into have been at the core of my work with the environmental movement and with Greenpeace in particular. And Dr. Pachauri (head of the UN’s scientific body) once again outlined why we all, especially those parents, need to stay involved on this issue.
He reminded us that the recent scientific findings on the impacts of climate change to humankind and ecosystems have become even more daunting: Huge percentages of plant and animal life disappearing, an entire continent - Africa - under serious threat from water scarcity; Arctic and Greenland ice disappearing, food shortages in other places and the most vulnerable countries like the Philippines at even greater risk.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the meeting with a passionate plea: “I am convinced that climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations.”
He then told world leaders and top officials from over 150 nations... "We hold the future in our hands. Together, we must ensure that our grandchildren will not have to ask why we failed to do the right thing, and let them suffer the consequences".
Coming to New York for this has been a reunion of sorts. Having seen long-time friends from Climate Action Network and seasoned negotiators from various countries, I felt a certain sense of excitement... (yes we do get excited over boring UN meetings).
For one this is the first and biggest gathering of world leaders on climate change in a long time. And it is happening just before an incredibly important meeting on climate - in Bali this December 2007. It is a much needed impetus. Everyone (perhaps with the exception of two rogue states) seems to be wanting to do more, to do better. I had high hopes.
When Greenpeace met with Ban Ki-moon last week, he told us that we all have played a major role in raising public awareness and mobilizing citizens of the world to take action. This is why many of us remain unwavering in our commitment to put the urgency of climate change on top of the international agenda. As many world leaders today said: What we do not have is time. There is danger in inaction. The cost of inaction is too high.
For the sake of future generations, for the sake of my children, please let the world not waste any more time.