UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that former mayor Michael Bloomberg helped reduce carbon emissions in New York and he is now counting on the billionaire philanthropist "to work for humanity" in his new job as United Nations Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.
Ban made the comments as he welcomed Bloomberg to U.N. headquarters for the first time since his appointment on Jan. 31.
The secretary-general said Bloomberg has been a strong supporter of many U.N. goals and ideals, including saving the lives of women and children, helping HIV/AIDS patients, and fighting non-communicable diseases but is best known "for his strong stewardship on environment and climate change."
Last year, Bloomberg boasted that New York city's air quality hit its highest levels in 50 years and now has the cleanest air of any major American city.
He said the level of sulfur dioxide in the air has gone down by 69 percent since 2008 and the level of soot pollution by 23 percent since 2007 — achievements officials attributed to a combination of factors, including buildings burning lower-pollution heating oils or switching over to cleaner burning natural gas.
The U.N. chief said he was counting on Bloomberg's "dedicated and visionary leadership" to help countries around the world address the climate change phenomenon.
As a first priority, Ban said he wants the former mayor to help make the U.N. climate change summit he has called in September "a great success."
"Most importantly," Ban said, "we need to have a global, legal climate change agreement by 2015 next year."