‘All Hands on Deck’ Declares Ban Ki-moon at UN Climate Summit
The issue of climate change skyrocketed in public awareness this week as the UN Climate Summit yesterday in New York City, and the historic People's Climate March Sunday joined by 400,000 people, attracted attention and news coverage around the world.
The UN Climate Summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who invited world leaders from government, finance, business and civil society "to galvanize and catalyze climate action." The event was not intended to strike binding agreements but to build momentum for the December 2015 UN climate conference in Paris.
“The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable," Ban said at the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Summit. “We need a clear shared vision."
Ban asked the hundreds of attending leaders to bring announcements of proposed actions to "reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015."
“To ride this storm we need all hands on deck. Today we must set the world on a new course."
"The summit delivered," said Ban at the end of the day.
Following the opening ceremony, where New York Mayor Bill De Blasio welcomed the visitors to his city and reiterated his city's intention to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 which he announced a few days earlier, leaders from global nations delivered their statements. His city was among 200 around the world, representing 400 million people, who signed the Compact of Mayors pledging to accelerate their efforts to combat pollution.
Of course, all eyes and ears were on President Obama, since the U.S. is one of Earth's largest contributors to climate change-causing emissions and therefore in a position to do more to address the problem than most countries.
“There's one issue that will define the contours of this century more than any other," said President Obama. “That is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate."
In addition to previously announced carbon-cutting initiatives, Obama unveiled a new executive order mandating federal agencies to consider climate resilience in their international development work and investments, and an initiative among U.S. agencies to make data used in predicting weather patterns more available.
China, represented by Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, made a pledge for the first time to cut its carbon emissions, saying it would reach peak carbon emissions as soon as possible and reduce its levels by 45 percent by 2020 over 2005 levels. While China has previously dragged its feet on addressing the issue, excessive pollution levels in its cities have increased public demand for action.
Together, the U.S. and China are responsible for nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Countries such as France, South Korea and Norway stepped up with financial offers to the UN Green Climate Fund. In all about $2.3 billion was committed by governments yesterday and Ban Ki-moon said he expects more commitments to come. Leaders in the financial sector pledged their own investments.
“A new coalition of governments, business, finance, multilateral development banks and civil society leaders announced their commitment to mobilize upwards of $200 billion for financing low-carbon and climate-resilient development," said Ban. He said that private banks announced they would issue $20 billion in Green Bonds and double the market to $50 billion by next year. And 30 companies announced their support of the Caring for Climate Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing agreement.
Deforestation, a major cause of climate change, was on the menu, as dozens of governments, businesses and civil groups stepped up with a the New York Declaration on Forests, a promise to cut deforestation in halve by 2020 and end it entirely within the following decade, beginning the process of restoration. Participants included the worlds largest palm oil companies, as well as user companies like Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme. And more than 50 governments, businesses and organizations pledged to join the new Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, while aims to feed more people while reducing agriculture's carbon footprint. Even coal and gas companies stepped up with promises to reduce methane emissions.
While leaders from countries like Monaco, Tanzania and Mauritus might have been unknown to the public, Leonardo DiCaprio, newly appointed UN Messenger of Peace, provided a celebrity hook for the event. He spoke to the opening session saying, "As an actor, I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters, solving fictitious problems. I believe that mankind has looked at climate change in that same way as if it were a fiction. As if pretending climate change wasn't real would make it go away. But I think we know better than that now."
"This body perhaps more than any other gathering than human history now faces this difficult but achievable task," he said. "You can make history or you will be villified by it." He called for "decisive, large-scale action" that went beyond asking people to change their lightbulbs and buy electric cars.
Reaction from environmental organizations was generally positive, although most encouraged further action and pressed for follow-through.
“The more than 400,000 people in New York and many, many more across the globe who marched on Sunday represent a broad, engaged and powerful climate movement demanding jobs, justice and a prosperous clean energy economy free of fossil fuels," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. "We have the momentum and will use it to ensure that our leaders' words today are matched by effective action."
“Following Sunday's impressive showing of more 400,000 people calling for action on climate change, we've seen some action from world leaders today, but not enough to match the energy of the people marching for their children's future," Naidoo said. "To preserve the health and safety of our planet and the human race, we must meet targets dictated by science—not agreed by politicians."
Rainforest Action Network director Lindsey Allen decried the exclusion of local community leaders at the summit while saying, "It is encouraging that big corporate players have taken the opportunity of the Climate Summit to publicly acknowledge their responsibility in forging a new path toward climate stability, even if many of these are re-statements of existing commitments. These corporations still must turn these statements into actionable policies and demonstrable shifts in practice throughout their global supply chains. It is time for globally binding commitments, the recognition of the traditional and customary rights of forest-dependent communities, and the actionable enforcement of these policies."
Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, New York City, sounded a hopeful note. "Something extraordinary happened at the United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday," she said. "One world leader after another took to the podium and described what his or her nation is already doing to reduce climate change pollution. After years of delay, the pace of climate action is picking up. This week confirmed that our voices are being heard. The past three days alone have shown that climate action is growing at every level of society. Joining 400,000 people calling for climate action on Sunday, I felt renewed hope. If concerned citizens and local and national leaders continue to raise our voices, we can respond to the climate threat just in time."
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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