Climate change: United Nations Ban Ki-moon says time to scale up climate change action

06 May 2016 | Adaptation

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned action on climate change must be faster and broader in order to turn the Paris deal promises to combat global warming into concrete measures.

"It is time to take climate action to the next level," he told a gathering in Washington that included the mayors of New York and Paris, environmental campaigner Al Gore, business leaders and members of the US Congress.

"We need to accelerate the speed, scope and scale of our response, locally and globally."

The meeting, dubbed Climate Action 2016, came two weeks after 175 countries signed the Paris climate deal at the United Nations, raising hopes the landmark deal would be quickly ratified.

The Paris agreement will come into force when 55 countries responsible for 55 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases have ratified it.

"We cannot afford to lose momentum because with each passing day the climate challenge grows," World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said.

"It seems that every time we look it's worse than we thought," he added, citing record hot temperatures that have now "become the new norm".

Economic growth had already been affected, with some regions seeing a 6 per cent drop because of water scarcity alone, he said.

Agreed by 195 nations, the Paris deal sets the goal of limiting global warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, by moving to clean energy.

French Environment Minister Segolene Royal sounded upbeat, saying there was a new awareness from many countries that were not fully committed to climate change.

Ms Royal said she wanted the Paris agreement to come into force before the end of this year.

China and the United States said they would ratify the Paris deal this year and are pushing for others to follow suit so the agreement becomes operational as early as the end of this year.

Mr Ban said he was convening a similar meeting to the Washington gathering in Beijing in September on the sidelines of the G20 summit to keep climate change high on the world agenda.