Obama's Attendance Can Make Or Break UN Climate Summit

03/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Grist

On Monday Reuters broke the story that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is organizing a summit in New York next month, where he hopes to get heads of state from major greenhouse-gas emitters (the U.S., China, and India) to talk about climate action plans. (Grist reported on the first hints of such a conference a few weeks back.)

Ban seems to think the timing is right for two reasons: First, he wants to meet before the April G20 meeting of wealthy countries and key developing nations so that the global financial crisis doesn't completely overshadow the climate crisis.

Second, he wants to surf on President Obama's wave of momentum and high popularity. Getting Obama to attend, with the visibility the new president would bring, is a top reason for the summit, according to the unnamed diplomats and U.N. officials quoted in the Reuters story. A Washington Post article went so far as to say "the U.N. chief is planning to shelve the event if the American leader cannot come, according to U.N. diplomats."

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