UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday, as world leaders and several business executives gathered to announce their commitments to reduce the effects of climate change.
U.S. President Barack Obama was among the 120 world leaders in attendance, a record for such meetings.
The summit is not part of the negotiations that are taking place in the build up to a 2015 summit in Paris in 2015, in which a comprehensive deal is set to be decided. Mr. Ban has instead convened the event to build political momentum in favour of an agreement.
The world has never before faced a global challenge like climate change, Mr. Ban said in his opening remarks.
“Climate change threatens hard-won peace, prosperity and opportunity for billions of people,” Mr. Ban said. “Today we must set the world on a new course.”
The UN chief called on governments and private institutions to invest in climate solutions designed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. He also urged the implementation of carbon taxes.
Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor who was recently appointed UN Messenger of Peace, said stopping climate change would require immediate and large-scale action.
“As an actor, I pretend for a living, I play fictitious characters,” Mr. DiCaprio said. “I believe that mankind has looked at climate change in that same way — as it were a fiction, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.”