UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Speaking at the United Nations' Climate Change Summit Tuesday, President Barack Obama called for a unified approach to tackling environmental issues.
After mentioning other global issues only in passing -- speaking of a week preoccupied with "terrorism, instability, disease" -- Obama exhorted the convened leaders to begin solving issues of climate change collectively, and itemized some of his administration's successes and aspirations.
He noted that, in the United States and "worldwide, this summer was the hottest on record," and pointed out wildfires in the western United States, droughts in the Midwest and the 2012 hurricane which struck New York.
"We cannot condemn our children and their children to a world beyond their capacity to repair," he said.
He also announced an executive order demanding climate change will be considered when U.S. funding is directed to less-developed countries.
Obama also spoke of progress on climate change in the United States while he has been in office, referring to plans to cut levels of HCF -- a refrigerant chemical that causes ozone depletion -- by 2030, and noted U.S. awareness in causing climate change and solving it.
He called on China, along with the United States -- the two largest economies and largest polluters in the world -- "to lead. That's what big countries have to do."
"We have to lead. That's what the United Nations General Assembly is all about. The United States of America is stepping up to the plate," he said.
The summit of 120 nations was scheduled to gain support for a comprehensive climate change treaty to be discussed in Paris in 2015.
Obama's speech was one of several, during the day, by national leaders and U.N. representatives. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, noting his poverty-stricken youth in war-torn Korea, said he dreamed of prosperity and opportunity. He noted, "Climate change is a defining issue of our age. Our response will define our future. To ride this storm we need all hands on deck."
In addition, actor and U.N. special envoy Leonardo DiCaprio told the summit, "This body, perhaps more than any other gathering in human history, now faces this difficult but achievable task. I beg of you to face it with courage. You can make history or be vilified by it."