As world leaders gathered in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly, Climate Week kicked off for the 14th year. It is the first personal climate week since the start of the COVID pandemic.
The General Assembly started last Monday and will last until next Tuesday. But this is the week that 157 heads of state and government representatives are expected to attend in person. And climate is high on the list of problems to tackle.
The theme of Climate Week this year, just like last year, is “Getting It Done”. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that climate change and other diseases have caused “colossal global dysfunction”, with global warming and uncontrolled emissions high on the list.
“Our world is addicted to fossil fuels,” he said in his official address to the General Assembly. “It’s time for an intervention.”
Alok Sharma, chair of the United Nations’ 2021 climate conference, echoed those thoughts.
“Since November last year, when we met at COP26, the world has faced multiple global crises,” Sharma said in a statement on Tuesday, marking the Russian invasion of Ukraine as one of them.
“At the same time, the chronic threat of climate change has been exacerbated with the devastating floods in Pakistan, which have flooded a third of the country, a terrible example of our changing climate. … It is more important than ever that all countries deliver on the commitments we have made.”
Sharma, newly crowned British Prime Minister Liz Truss and other officials will represent the UK at both Climate Week and the General Assembly.
World leaders and environmental officials agreed last year to find ways to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, curb methane emissions, replenish forests and stop deforestation. They also pledged to help those who are already seeing the effects of climate change.
Climate action leaders and activists meeting in New York City this week include representatives of indigenous groups — some of the peoples affected not only by climate change, but also by the measures that are driving it, such as deforestation.
“We are part of the Amazon,” said Uyunkar Domingo Peas Nampichkai, a leader of the Achuar people of Ecuador.
Nampichkai came as part of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, which works to get indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, governments and other groups to establish a protected area that spans Peru and the joint Ecuadorian Amazon.
“We know the Amazon. We live in the Amazon,” he told the Daily News.
Deforestation and issues such as biodiversity loss are tipping points that could affect the entire planet, leaders noted.
Nampichkai was part of a delegation representing 600,000 people from more than 30 indigenous nationalities in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon. They came all the way to New York City, they told the Daily News, to make sure the senior officials attending Climate Week and the General Assembly heard their concerns.
Climate Week includes about 500 events in NYC and around the world, organizers said. That’s in addition to an official event program, a whole series of events designed to draw attention to potential solutions.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which is committed to eradicating poverty and reducing inequality, has even resorted to a talking dinosaur.
“Frankie” succinctly explains, voiced by actor Jack Black, in a CGI-powered clip that evokes the current “Jurassic World” craze.