What: Heads of state from over 100 countries are scheduled to attend Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “high level meeting” on climate change. The idea behind the meeting is to generate some political momentum ahead of the critical international climate talks in Copenhagen this December. This momentum is badly needed: The Kyoto Protocols will expire in 2012, and it will likely take a few years for countries to ratify a new climate change treaty.
Last time the secretary general hosted one of these confabs was in September 2007. Back then, heads of state from the two top emitters, China and the United States, didn’t even bother to show up. The atmospherics, as it were, are different this time around. Both U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao plan to attend the meeting. The Chinese government in particular is playing up Hu’s scheduled speech as an “important address” that will lay out policies China is willing to undertake to combat climate change. Because China recently surpassed the United States as the world’s largest carbon emitter, environmentalists will be watching closely.