How Climate Change Creates Global Security Risks
Heads of state from France to India are gathering in New York this week along with some of the world’s top corporate leaders for a climate summit as protests demanding curbs in carbon emissions expand across the globe.
The annual Climate Week event is beginning Monday, ahead of a summit hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres later in the day. Attendees include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and France’s Emmanuel Macron. U.S. President Donald Trump, who announced he would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose country contains a huge swath of the Amazon forest, are skipping the gathering.
The event follows Friday’s global protests demanding action on climate change, with tens of thousands of people participating in a movement backed by 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Students skipped school, and workers walked off jobs to participate in rallies from Sydney to Warsaw and New York. They want governments to treat global warming as an emergency, slash subsidies for fossil fuels and switch to 100 per cent renewable energy.
In Berlin, the demonstrators gathered just as the German government hammered out a US$60 billion climate-protection package. The plan, worth more than the nation’s 2009 economic stimulus plan following the financial crisis, gradually increases automotive fuel prices and taxes air travel, while cutting costs for trains. It also introduces carbon allowances for transportation and provides incentives for people to junk old furnaces.
Not a Snub
Meanwhile, Trump -- who has worked to roll back restrictions on everything from vehicle to power plant emissions -- said his absence from the UN summit this week isn’t intended as a snub. He pointed out that he’s being briefed on catastrophic flooding in the Houston area.
UN Secretary-General Guterres said he believes the U.S. can still pull its weight on climate change, even though Trump will be absent at the New York event. Cities and businesses are helping fill part of the void left by national governments on climate issues, according to the UN chief.
He is pushing countries to raise their commitments to wean the world away from fossil fuels and said on Friday he expects an “impressive” number of leaders to announce commitments during the summit to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The climate event will take place as the UN General Assembly also convenes this week, and Brazil’s Bolsonaro plans to use his speech on Tuesday to punch back at critics who say he doesn’t care about the environment, while asserting his nation’s sovereignty over the Amazon rain forest. He got into a a trans-Atlantic feud last month with France’s Macron amid a flurry of reports about the burning Amazon.
In the lead-up to the UN gathering, several large companies and cities announced voluntary efforts to deal with climate change. Amazon.com Inc. founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos this month announced a plan to meet the goals of the Paris agreement 10 years early, while more than 500 investors called on governments to take more action to combat climate change.
Other speakers at the New York events this week include Oliver Baete, chief executive officer of insurance giant Allianz SE; Henrik Poulsen, CEO of Orsted A/S, the world’s largest offshore wind developer; and Unilever NV CEO Alan Jope.
--With assistance from Nic Querolo and Joe Ryan.