With the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference less than a week away, global leaders are urging Governments to meet the biggest challenge this generation faces by paving a way for a legally binding agreement.

Speaking from Capetown, Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, known for battling against apartheid, said the stakes for humanity were too high for the international community to fail at Copenhagen.

“The final measure of a generation’s courage is the memory of what they have done,” Tutu said in a video-message.

“We must live in memory as the generation that pulled humanity back from the brink of catastrophic climate change.”

On Monday, the Conference will kick off in the Danish capital, and in two weeks, negotiators from over 100 countries are expected to produce a document that captures agreement on key political fronts to tackle climate change that will be worked into a legally binding treaty early next year.

Tutu said droughts, floods and water shortage were already on the rise because of climate change, and lack of action spelled out certain devastation for “our children and children’s children.”

“This global threat already affects us all particularly the poorest and the most vulnerable... that alone should move all governments to act,” he said.

On similar lines, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a video message hosted by the UN, stressed the need to “create and strengthen critical partnerships” at Copenhagen, and urged governments to move to green economies, low carbon technologies and energy independence.

“At the regional level all around the world cities, states, provinces and nations have been hard at work because we must have climate action,” he said.

“I will be in Copenhagen to talk about the fantastic things that we are achieving right here in California at the regional level to fight greenhouse gas emissions.”

Joining the call was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wrote in the UN Newsletter urging communities across the world to “act locally” to combat climate change.

Bloomberg said Copenhagen is not just about world leaders but will also “include mayors from many of the world’s largest cities, regional government officials, CEOs, labour leaders and activists representing a broad range of issues.”

Noting that New York has a smaller carbon footprint than other cities since less than half of its residents own an automobile and use less than half the electricity per year of the average American, Bloomberg said that the city plans to make existing buildings more efficient under the “Greener Greater Buildings Plan“.

“We recognise that every city has a responsibility to take action... and also that the actions we take will not only help fight climate change, but also have other major long-term benefits,” the mayor said.

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