To Keep Global Warming Within Manageable Limits, We Need to Speak Up Now

The latest piece of science on climate change is in: greenhouse gases hit a new high, or should I say low, last year.

According to the World Meteorological Society, in 2013 carbon dioxide concentrations rose at a rate higher than ever recorded before.

Yet as the evidence proving we humans are responsible for global warming continues to mount and the warnings about its significance become ever more dire -- still nothing is done.

Given that climate change is arguably the single most pressing issue to face the human race in the history of time, it seems almost impossible to be true that the last time world leaders came together to discuss this issue was in 2009.

Where is the momentum we need if we are going to meet this challenge before it is too late? Where is the leadership, the strong, determined leadership we need, if we are to contain this looming disaster?

What is so different and so complex about this challenge is that it affects the entire planet, meaning the leadership and agreement we need must come from right across the globe.

It is clear that individual citizens do not feel significantly empowered to make a change. We may recycle our cardboard and plastics whenever we can, but is there really any point in significantly changing our habits if we have no faith that our politicians will meet us even half way?

But together, citizens can and do make a significant difference, giving politicians the courage they need to commit to difficult decisions.

This Sunday (9/21) hundreds of thousands of people will take to the streets of New York City to signal their fears for the world we live in. The People's Climate March is expected to be the biggest climate change protest ever staged.

It precedes the UN's Climate Change Summit, organized by our Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, himself a passionate supporter of the environment and of civil society.

The Secretary General believes that ordinary people are the key to change, and in addition to bringing world leaders together, he will be call for greater citizen engagement at next week's summit in New York.

He will be asking for input into a new initiative MY Green World, a survey aimed at giving politicians a clear, direct message from their people.

It has been inspired by our MY World survey, which has spoken to more than 4.5 million people about their hopes and dreams for a better life in the run up to the new 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and we will use our knowledge and expertise as well as our strong network of partners to reach out to citizens all over the world, from all walks of life, to ask them how concerned they are about climate change.

After all, the issues we have found that people most care about, education, health, the right to earn a living wage, are inextricably linked to a sustainable environment.

An Overseas Development Institute report earlier this year stated that 'addressing climate change must be pivotal to any development effort'.

Climate change directly affects food security, energy, water and health. They then impact on jobs and education, as well as gender equality. Lack of energy and water, jobs and education lead to conflict and insecurity.

MY Green World will ask voters which measures they would support to tackle global warming, whether it be to stop subsidizing fossil fuels or to give tax breaks for eco-friendly appliances.

Before its launch at COP 20 in Peru this December, we will be undertaking an online consultation to help develop the survey, to ensure its inclusivity and transparency. The idea will be to focus minds on possibilities, suggest solutions and give a sense of what could be achieved.

The results will provide important information to policy makers at all levels and yield insights on which measures have popular support among constituents in different parts of the world.

The information will be disaggregated by age, gender, education level and location allowing detailed analysis of the results. It could be a powerful lobbying tool as countries work on deciding what carbon emission reductions they are willing to offer.

The results will also be presented to world leaders when they meet in Paris at the end of 2015 to agree a global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Our goal is to speak to as many people as we can, because when people get together and speak their minds, they can make a difference. They can influence leaders to make bold moves.

If we are to keep global warming within the manageable limits of 2 degrees Celsius by 2020, we need to speak up with a clear, strong, united voice -- now.

This post is part of a month-long series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with a variety of events being held in September recognizing the threats posed by climate change. Those events include the UN's Climate Summit 2014 (to be held Sept. 23, 2014, at UN headquarters in New York) and Climate Week NYC (Sept. 22-28, 2014, throughout New York City). To see all the posts in the series, read here.