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As world warms and climate debate heats up, leaders descend on NYC for summit

Demonstrators march towards Wall Street from Battery Park to protest for action on climate change and corporate greed, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York a day after a huge climate march in New York City. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Demonstrators march towards Wall Street from Battery Park to protest for action on climate change and corporate greed, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York a day after a huge climate march in New York City. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) AP

In a week that a massive march descended on New York City, in a summer scientists said was the hottest on record, and in a year U.S. officials are trying to curtail carbon pollution, the United Nations is about to begin its Climate Summit 2014.

Attending the event, which begins Tuesday, will be more than 120 heads of state. They are expected to announce their commitment for “reaching a universal and meaningful climate agreement in 2015,” organizers said.

President Barack Obama will address the summit Tuesday. He is expected to talk about moves the U.S. has made to address climate change and to urge the leaders of other nations to keep up an ambitious agenda to address the issue.

It was an idea echoed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in a statement last week laid out the reasons for the summit: “Greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels and the effects of climate change are already widespread, costly and consequential,” he said. “We need a clear vision, anchored in domestic and multinational actions, for keeping global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. The world needs to see what opportunities there are to cut greenhouse gas emissions and provide sustainable energy sources. By seeing what is possible, others can find inspiration and follow suit.”

In its lead-up to the summit, the UN has been highlighting climate solutions – 22 in all, one for each day this month leading up to the summit.

Notwithstanding bickering in Congress about what to do about climate change – or whether the U.S. should do anything – the Obama administration has been pushing hard on the issue this year. In June, the administration released proposed rules designed to cut the pollution emitted from the nation’s power plants; the proposal set off a scramble by Republicans, who pounced on them as unnecessary and unworkable, as well as some states that will struggle to implement them.

Across the country, hundreds of thousands of citizens have weighed in with their view of the rules; those comments will continue to come in until mid-October.

Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for the months of June, July and August was the highest on record, topping the reading from 1998.

The UN’s climate summit is being held 14 months before countries meet in Paris to reach a global climate agreement. It will focus on “vision and concrete action,” the UN said, designed to “raise the prospects for a more ambitious and meaningful climate agreement.”

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