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This past weekend, thousands of climate campaigners took to the streets of New York City to urge President Joe Biden to halt the approval of new fossil fuel projects. As world leaders gather for the United Nations’ general assembly this week, these protests, supported by over 700 climate organizations worldwide, serve as a powerful reminder of the urgent need for action.
While President Biden is set to address the UN assembly on Tuesday, his attendance at the UN’s climate-specific summit has not been confirmed. However, the president will use his visit to New York to advance US interests and values on various global issues, including climate change. In the meantime, the march in New York marks the beginning of a week filled with climate action, with business leaders, politicians, and activists converging in the city for conferences and summits.
The list of speakers is diverse, featuring individuals like Ugandan justice activist Vanessa Nakate, US billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and new World Bank president Ajay Banga. Executives from technology and clean energy companies, as well as environment ministers from nations across the globe, will also be in attendance. New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, addressing the crowd at the end of the rally, emphasized that climate action is both an electoral and popular force that cannot be ignored.
These UN meetings, including the general assembly and the dedicated climate summit, are crucial gatherings of world leaders before the UN COP28 climate deliberations in December. The urgency of the situation is undeniable, with the world already experiencing its hottest season on record and top scientists warning that global warming is highly likely to reach a 1.5°C rise since pre-industrial times. To put this in perspective, the Paris climate accord set a long-term goal of limiting average temperature rise to 1.5°C, and we have already surpassed 1.1°C.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stressed the importance of political commitment to address climate change. While the tools to curb and adapt to climate change exist, progress has been impeded by a lack of commitment. Demonstrators targeted the fossil fuel industry, urging the Biden administration to halt new projects.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who spearheaded this week’s climate summit, has previously warned of a new era of “global boiling.” However, reaching agreements on climate progress has proven challenging in recent multilateral meetings. China and Saudi Arabia, in particular, have hindered efforts to discuss greenhouse gas emissions targets, causing frustration among diplomats from other nations.
In the upcoming COP28, negotiators from nearly 200 countries must collaborate to reach agreements on global stocktaking of emissions and establish a fund for loss and damage related to climate change. This week’s gathering aims to showcase early adopters and leaders in taking action to combat climate change and adapt to a warming planet. Discussions will also focus on financing strategies for climate change adaptation. Additionally, island nations facing the threat of sea-level rise will convene on the sidelines of the UN meeting to address their specific concerns.
As we navigate these critical discussions, it is evident that urgent action is required. We must accelerate decarbonization efforts to ensure that the goals of the Paris agreement remain within reach. Stay informed with our Climate Capital coverage, where we explore the intersection of climate change, business, markets, and politics. If you’re interested in the FT’s environmental sustainability commitments, learn more about our science-based targets. Sign up now to receive our free climate change updates and be part of the global movement for a more sustainable future.
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