De Blasio Also Addresses United Nations Summit


UNITED NATIONS (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a forceful appeal for international cooperation on limiting carbon pollution, President Barack Obama warned starkly on Tuesday that the globe’s climate is changing faster than efforts to address it.

“Nobody gets a pass,” the president declared. “We have to raise our collective ambition.”

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Getting Around Town | Traffic Map

Speaking at a United Nations summit, Obama said the United States is doing its part and that it will meet its goal to cut carbon pollution 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. He also announced modest new U.S. commitments to address climate change overseas. The summit aims to galvanize support for a global climate treaty to be finalized next year.

Photos: Clinton Global Initiative

But Obama’s strongest comments came as he sought to unify the international conclave behind actions to reduce global warming.

“The alarm bells keep ringing; our citizens keep marching,” he said. “We can’t pretend we can’t hear them. We need to answer the call. We need to cut carbon emission in our countries to prevent worse effects, adapt and work together as a global community to tackle this global threat before it is too late.”

He said the U.S. and China as the largest polluters have a responsibility to lead. But, Obama added, “No nation can meet this global threat alone.”

More than 120 world leaders gathered on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly to organize support for a global climate treaty to be finalized next year in Paris. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the summit’s host, asked representatives of nations to come to New York with specific pledges in hand to mitigate climate change, as a way to show they’re serious about ambitious emissions reductions in the treaty.

Obama’s goals at the summit: to convince other nations that the U.S. is doing its part to curb greenhouse gases, and make the case that other major polluters should step up, too.

“It’s very clear to the international community that the president is extending considerable political capital at home in order to implement his climate plan, and that’s true,” said Nigel Purvis, a U.S. climate negotiator in the administrations of presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. “The hope is that when we take action, others will do so as well.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio also addressed the summit, decrying “the reckless way we live.” De Blasio said “no one is spared” the problems the world faces due to rising global temperatures.

He also touted his administration’s plan to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent over the next four decades.

The summit and a planned climate change protest Tuesday were only adding to the traffic problems that always accompany the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.

Climate change protesters who flooded Wall Street on Monday were expected to head to the U.N. as Obama arrived for the climate summit.

After more than 100,000 people marched Sunday to warn that climate change is destroying the Earth, more than 1,000 activists blocked parts of Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District on Monday in a sit-in to protest what they see as corporate and economic institutions’ role in the climate crisis

Police arrested more than 100 people Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who participated in Sunday’s People’s Climate March, sided with protesters Tuesday, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

“I can’t say they’re going too far,” de Blasio told reporters outside the U.N. building. “I think, first of all, the issue is one of tremendous urgency. And whenever you have an urgent issue, people utilize civil disobedience.”

The mayor, however, also praised police for their handling of Monday’s demonstration.

“The NYPD did a fantastic job allowing the protesters to make their point, but handling the situation with a lot of flexibility and restraint,” de Blasio said.

When asked about Monday’s traffic mess, the mayor responded, “I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic.”

Several streets in the area of the U.N. building are closed all week:

• First Avenue from 42nd to 49th, as well as 49th between Lexington and Third avenues.

• Also closed are 44th, 45th and 46th streets between Second and First avenues.

• As dignitaries move around the city, any street could be closed off at a moment’s notice.

Across town from the UN the Clinton Global Initiative was meeting at the Sheraton Hotel. The president spoke there in conjunction with his appearance at the UN.

As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, there was even some star power on hand for the worldwide summit. Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio was appointed as Moon’s messenger of peace.

DiCaprio is an outspoken advocate and has created his own foundation to save some of the earth’s last remaining wildlife sanctuaries.

“We are at a pivotal turning point. We are seeing the effects of rapid climate change happening every week in the news,” he said.

The calls from reform have echoed all week as hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets on Sunday and Monday.

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