According to UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres, over 125 heads of state are expected to attend the upcoming New York City Climate Summit.
This news comes the day after UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that he also intends to be at the September 23 summit.
This meeting, hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, comes ahead of next year’s Paris Climate Change Conference. That Conference may end in a binding international treaty; the NYC summit will act as a political thermometer to see where various nations are in the year leading up to it.
Representatives from several multinational businesses will be in attendance, including BT, Unilever, HP, Virgin and Lockheed Martin, to discuss incentivizing low carbon technologies and the potential for a global carbon price.
The presence of such corporations has drawn criticism, but Figueres has stated that they are a necessary part of the process.
“The inclusion of business at the summit and over the past few years is frankly a recognition that climate change is not a one person or one sector issue,” she said. “It cannot be solved by one country, one sector or one level of government. Climate is an every-person issue, and it requires everyone to work collaboratively in order to reach the solutions to the level and at the speed we need to find.”
An apt symbol of this multilateral partnership is We Mean Business, a group of businesses and industry organizations that is urging governments to devote themselves to cleaner energies and carbon regulation.
Absent from the summit will be the leaders of two of the planet’s three biggest polluters: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping. Xi was previously confirmed for the summit in July and will now be sending Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in his place. India has not yet finalized its alternate representative.
Figureres has stated that the absence of these two leaders should not be taken as some sort of political or environmental message. “I would not recommend we read too much into the person who is going to be speaking for the Chinese and India governments,” she said.
“The fact is that they had fully intended to be represented at the top level and for reasons that have nothing to do with the climate summit at the at the last minute they are not able to be there.”
Prior to the summit, activists are planning what may be the biggest climate march in history. The People’s Climate March is scheduled for Sunday, September 21 and will be preceded and followed by several environmental events intended to raise awareness for green issues and sustainable living.