In the largest high-level climate change meeting since 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon brought together the heads of over a hundred countries on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. While the summit did not bring forth a new comprehensive global strategy, there were a number of developments which, taken together, suggest a shift in the level of commitment to the fight against climate change among global leaders.

Among the key takeaways at the summit was the new found urgency among global leaders regarding climate change. One consistent trend among the most driven leaders was a recognition of the connection between climate change and the extreme weather plaguing to many of the world’s nations. US President Barack Obama addressed the various instances in which extreme weather had significantly harmed some of America’s largest cities over the past year. Following the Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli’s announcement that China would increase efforts to ensure that the country’s manmade greenhouse gas emissions would peak as early as possible, the vice chairman of the country’s National Development and Reform Commission related this development to the growing concern over the extreme weather causing danger to citizens and harming the economy.

The summit also saw the participation of several local governments representatives, the mayors of several dozens of cities were in attendance, as well as representatives from 25 global business leaders, such as Kellog’s, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, and Procter & Gamble. This is in line with the prevailing wisdom in climate change research which argues that climate change efforts depend on the involvement of local governments and business leaders alongside the headline making national commitments at the fore in similar climate events. As local leaders and businesses join national leaders in driving climate efforts the global level commitments are turned into actionable, local level legislation and market developments.

The summit also continued to support the growth of the Green Climate Fund founded at the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen. While the Green Climate Fund has yet to meet the ambitious goals set out for it in 2009, the New York summit showed postivie signs of the conitneud commitment to growing this fund as country’s such as Germany, France, and South Korea, among many others, made new commitments to the fund.

In addition to the strengthened resolve evident among global leaders in the speeches made during summit, events outside of the UN headquarters’ halls as thousands of citizens took to the streets of Manhattan on Sunday in one of the largest public climate change marches in history. The climate march was among roughly 2,000 demonstrations held in 150 countries on Sunday, September 21st, and provided a strong sign of the public demand for political action.

Read more: About the Climate Summit and the demonstrations

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