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Is the UN Climate Summit Nothing More Than a Talk Fest Full of Empty Promises?

Today, leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York City for a summit on climate change.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seemed thrilled by the response of the world leaders to his invitation to make a sustainable difference in the plant.

“Change is in the air. Today’s Climate Summit has shown an entirely new, cooperative global approach to climate change,” Ban told the press during a mid-day press conference. “The actions announced today by governments, businesses, finance and civil society show that many partners are eager to confront the challenges of climate change together.”

He also seemed pleased by the fact that the developed world seemed willing to pony up some hard cash.

“Today shows that the world is finally waking up to the economic and social opportunities of taking action on climate change. “ Ban said. “The Climate Summit is showcasing a level of ambition not seen before and producing actions and new initiatives that will make a significant difference.”

Among the actions announced today was an initiative to raise $200 billion for the Green Climate Fund by 2015. It is a whole lot of money and if successful, could dramatically impact sustainable development and other green goals.

Some organizations, warn, however, that despite the big talk of pledges heard at the posh event, you might want to save your enviro-cheering for later.

“The devil is in the detail and there are too many uncertainties about the nature of the pledge to make a final call on its impact. French President Hollande has not clarified if the funds committed will be additional to existing climate and development commitments or double-counted,” Oxfam said, slamming France’s dramatic pledge announcement. “The fact that France has a tradition of mixing loans and grants in its climate finance commitments raises further questions about the exact nature and ambition of this pledge.”

The Third World Network, a group that advocates for the interests of the developing world, also cautioned that while it is easy to make promises while on the podium, it is much harder to pay up.

“The question is whether the meeting will wind up as another talk fest. Many developed countries – especially the US and its allies – are delaying making their contributions to the Green Climate Fund (GCF),” the group said, adding last time all these pledges were made [in Mexico in 2010], few countries actually followed through on their promises for change.

Photo Credit; UN Photo (Leonardo DiCaprio at Opening Ceremonies)

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.