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As U.N. gathers, groups put global climate change at forefront



As world leaders gather this week at the U.N. to address problems facing the world, one group is making sure those leaders don't ignore one of the most pressing: global climate change.

Climate Week NYC, a week-long series of events and discussions across the city, kicks off today with hopes of getting the world's leaders to focus on the state and progress of clean technology, policies and other forces impacting the global climate.

"Climate Week is a milestone, it's one of the major parts" of the global climate discussion, said spokesman Nicholas Mandalas. "We feel that taking efforts like these is the only way to have cleaner, better future."

Today's opening ceremony will include remarks from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who Mandalas said has had an "amazing sense of vision and foresight" that has made New York a global model for how clean tech, policy and other efforts can coalesce to shape a "smarter, better, cleaner world."

Though not affiliated with the U.N. General Assembly, Climate Week is scheduled to coincide with it so that world leaders can take notice of the conversations taking place there, Mandalas said.

Experts said that New York is particularly susceptible to climate change, citing its specific urban design (experts call it the "Urban Heat Island"), its unique air-quality conditions and its coastal location.

"As temperatures rise, the next generation of New Yorkers can expect more frequent heat waves ... and higher sea levels with more frequent coastal flooding," said Radley Horton, associate research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University.

"By the 2080s, New York City could see something like four to seven degrees of warming," Horton said, as well as "a rise in sea-level between two and four feet by end of the century."

Still, Mandalas said the city is taking steps to fight such an outcome.

"New York is a great model for what could happen on a global scale," he said. "It doesn't need to do these things, but it does anyway, and we want that to spread.


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