UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon has warned the international community that, far from being an isolated tragedy, Sandstorm Sandy is a warning of how future weather will develop as global warming progresses.
Moon encouraged governments across the world to develop their environmental policies in light of the storm, which killed 191 and left vast areas of the Eastern USA in pieces.
The Secretary General’s statement is the second high profile climate change warning to come from New York City, following the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, endorsing Barack Obama in the presidential race on environmental grounds. The UN head office, based in New York, closed for three days during the storm, bringing the reality of our changing climate as close to the international headquarters as possible.
There really does appear to be ‘something in the air’ on the issue of combating global warming. The forthcoming Qatar negotiations may have been fruitless if Mitt Romney had been elected and the disaster of Sandy not hit so hard the world’s largest economic country. Obama’s re-election is being looked upon by environmental campaigners across the world as a watermark change in US policy towards global warming.
Given the extent of the damage caused by the storm and the accumulating calls from high profile leaders and campaigners, Obama may feel that he simply must see through some form of participation in a global agreement. Much in politics can change in so little time. Few would have expected climate change to be a topic emerging with priority from the US presidential race. Obama has been consistent on his intentions, but this second term could see the US do a U-turn on the country’s current decision not to commit to the targets of Kyoto. At the very least he may instigate the beginning of a three-point-turn.
Ban-Ki Moon warned that for too long the international community had ignored the threat of climate change and now the chickens were coming home to roost in an increasingly terrifying way. The storm on the Eastern Coast of the US has made the environment an issue once again, giving the Qatar talks particular importance. Obama has nothing to lose in his final term by reaching for the sky on this issue, it is too early to predict the result of the primaries, in which few presidents do well, but it is definite that he will be present for another four years.
The UN Secretary General undoubtedly wishes to see those four years develop as a new era in the fight against global warming. As further higher priority leaders speak out, Obama and the rest of the world are beginning to realise that good rhetoric of the past must now be underpinned by concrete policy.
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