Climate Summit at the United Nations


President Barack Obama addressing the largest-ever gathering of world leaders at the UN Climate Summit, September 23, 2014

World leaders from the fields of government, finance, business, and civil society gathered in New York City at the United Nations in September to raise the alarm over climate change. There was a flurry of announced commitments and promises and proposed action items aimed at raising awareness and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for summit participants to mobilize around plans to reduce emissions and pressed nations to reach a meaningful global agreement. President Barack Obama urged strong action to prevent climate change and mitigate the effects of extreme weather.

The UN Climate Summit provided a vantage point from which to look forward to the UN’s next major conference on climate change, scheduled for late 2015 in Paris, France. The Paris conference will mark the 21st annual meeting of the countries that signed the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the 11th time the signatories to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol have met. The previous UN “round” of talks on climate change was in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 (see here).

Prior to the event, the city witnessed a mass rally called the People’s Climate March in which an estimated 300,000 people participated. Organizers claimed that similar “solidarity events” (rallies and demonstrations) were held in 162 countries. The huge march in New York City was promoted by, which advocates for radical action to limit, and even reverse, global warming trends caused by human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels. Many local groups from around the country also sent contingents to the march.

Most participants in both the summit and the People’s March hold that climate change is largely caused by factors under human control, and that it is already harming people and the planet. Although the extent of the scientific consensus on climate change often gets overstated, it underlies the heightened focus on what can be done to secure a sustainable future.

Image credit: © Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Related Links

  • UN Climate Summit 2014
    This is the official United Nations website for the late-September summit on climate change.
    (Source: United Nations; accessed October 6, 2014)
  • Why Should You Care about Climate Change? 18 Experts Explain.
    This collection of brief videos presents experts who attended the climate change summit telling why they care about climate change, and why you should too.
    (Source: United Nations; accessed October 6, 2014)
  • Climate Fight Must Expand beyond Usual Suspects
    Seeing the diversity and number of participants in the People’s Climate March as a hopeful sign, this editorial points toward the grass roots as the most likely source of needed action against climate change.
    (Source: Boston Globe, October 6, 2014)
  • The Crumbling Climate Change Consensus
    This opinion piece claims that the rhetoric of climate change alarmists is heating up even as their case is weakening.
    (Source: National Review Online, September 21, 2014)
  • People’s Climate March: To Change Everything, We Need Everyone.
    This is the website of the organization that planned the mass rallies leading up to the UN Climate Summit.
    (Source: People’s Climate March; accessed October 6, 2014)


  1. Billy Bob says:

    Does anyone see an argument here?

  2. confusedfeminine says:

    what is going on this is very confusing?????????????