UN Secretary General to Greenpeace: "We need you to mobilize public opinion"

Feature story - 20 September, 2007
Ban Ki-Moon knows a thing or two about climate change and, as head of the UN, the world’s top diplomat knows a thing or two about politics. When our own executive director, Dr. Gerd Leipold, got in the lift at the UN bound for the 38th floor, he came to ask Ban for strong leadership at the UN climate change meeting on Monday (24th).

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon meets with Greenpeace. From left to right: Daniel Mittler, Athena Ronquillo, Gerd Leipold, Ban Ki-moon, Jamie Choi and John Passacantando.

The UN Secretary General has real moral authority. We hope that Ban Ki-moon will use it to call for a "Bali Mandate". What's that? It's what we need to get out of the biggest climate negotiations in over a decade that will take place in Bali, Indonesia at the end of the year. It's a rescue plan for planet earth, which will result in a strengthened Kyoto Protocol.

Ban and Leipold discussed climate change -  both agreeing about the urgency of the situation and moral imperative of taking concrete action based upon equity to protect people and the planet from runaway climate change.

Then the Secretary General laid it out for us: "We need you, Greenpeace, to mobilize public opinion and enable politicians to do the right thing." Putting the ball squarely in our court and that of our supporters. Strong leadership is only half of the equation; public pressure is the other half.

The Greenpeace delegation

A number of Greenpeace staff joined in the meeting.  To show our diversity, and to deliver their own messages:  

John Passacantando

, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, ably represented those in the US that do not endorse the position and intransigence of the Bush administration. Passacantando told how people in the US are already addressing the climate emergency.  He also urged the Secretary General to ignore Bush's "big emitters" conference next week, dismissing it as a diversion tactic from a president no one is listening to anymore.

Jamie Choi

, a young Korean activist working for Greenpeace China, described how the energy revolution is already underway in Asia.  Adding that many young people have grown impatient with slow moving governments.

Athena Ronquillo


Daniel Mittler

, two of our policy experts, who've been first hand participants through years of climate change political meetings, were also there.  Ronquillo gave a quick outline of what we'll be doing in the next few months to ramp up the pressure on politicians on the Road to Bali and how we will push for a meaningful mandate to tackle climate change.

Two climate meetings

Our meeting with the General Secretary is a prelude to the UN 'informal' Climate Summit on Monday, September 24th, in New York, with some 80 heads of state.  

At this meeting next week, we are again among the speakers addressing delegates and heads of state. Greenpeace China campaign director Sze Ping will talk about our work there, and how China can be part of the solution to climate change.  And he will deliver the message of our energy revolution: We have to technology we need. We just need to use energy smarter and ensure a massive uptake of renewable energies and we can still avert climate chaos.

Later next week, the Bush administration will host its own climate change meeting, scheduled to start September 27th in Washington, DC.  This is the so-called "big emitters" meeting since it's for the 16 countries that account for 90 percent of global warming emissions.

Bush is expected to keep pushing the idea of "aspirational targets".  They are nothing legally binding or meaningful. At best, they are a random wish list - that will still result in a cooked planet.  

Greenpeace will be at the meeting too, providing analysis, comment and opposition to this distraction from the real task.  We need real commitment at the next climate talks. Not more fluff. "The clock is ticking", Ban Ki-moon told us yesterday. There truly is no time to waste.

You might not have an invitation to the UN, but you've got an invitation from us.  Join the 7 steps programme.  We'll send you seven emails over seven weeks with simple ways you can put the heat on politicians and business leaders. We need your help over the next few months to increase political pressure on the road to Bali.

More information:

Sze Ping Lo's speach - To world leaders at the UN.

Guide to major meetings - A short overview of the major climate change related political meetings of 2007.

Bali Mandate - What Greenpeace is calling for at the Bali meeting in December, 2007.

China and climate change - Briefing on what China is doing to combat climate change.

Climate change and deforestation - How deforestation is contributing to climate change.

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