Skip to main content

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23, 2014 in New York City.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Barack Obama says climate change will "define the contours" of the next century unless all countries play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking at the United Nations climate summit Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. president said his country will meet its Copenhagen commitments and set a new target next year. The U.S. agreed in 2010 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2020.

Read the Globe's explainer of the high-stakes climate summit.

Story continues below advertisement

He said no country can stand on the sidelines on the issue and called for other countries to do more to reduce emissions.

Mr. Obama's speech was highly anticipated at the UN summit, which was convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to galvanize political momentum for ongoing climate negotiations. More than 120 heads of government are attending the day-long event, making it one of the best-attended meetings on climate change.

However, several high-profile leaders did not attend the event, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the leaders of Germany and Australia also did not attend.

Mr. Obama said he met with China's vice premier ahead of his talk at the summit and said that as "big countries," both have a special responsibility to lead. He added the U.S. would make climate change a consideration in all future international development projects.

He said he recognizes that his country has contributed to climate change and said he is willing to play a role – as the world's second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases – in tackling the issue.

Mr. Obama noted that the U.S. has felt the effects of climate change in all regions and said the current generation is probably the last that would be able to address the issue.

World leaders are gathering in New York for a General Assembly that is likely to be dominated by crises such as the spread of Ebola in West Africa and Islamic State extremism.

Story continues below advertisement

"There is one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other," Mr. Obama said. "That is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies