Climate activists rally in New York ahead of UN meet, urge an end to fossil fuelstext_fields
New York: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of New York on Sunday, demanding urgent action against climate change as the UN General Assembly prepared to convene.
Protesters representing approximately 700 organisations and activist groups carried placards with slogans such as "Biden, end fossil fuels," "Fossil fuels are killing us," and "I didn't vote for fires and floods," echoing the growing concern about climate-related disasters.
The demonstration followed a summer marked by numerous climate change-linked catastrophes.
Among the leaders set to attend the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is US President Joe Biden.
Analilia Mejia, director of the activist group Center for Popular Democracy, said, "We are here to demand that the administration declare a climate emergency." She emphasised the need for immediate action in response to the climate crisis, reported AFP.
A recent UN climate report, released earlier this month, set 2025 as the deadline for global greenhouse gas emissions to peak and rapidly decrease to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The report highlighted the importance of additional efforts to address climate change, leading up to a pivotal climate summit in Dubai at year's end.
To achieve the Paris Agreement's target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the report called for the phase-out of all fossil fuels with emissions that cannot be captured or offset.
Mejia pointed to recent extreme weather events, including wildfires in Canada, Hawaii, and Greece, as well as flooding in Libya, as clear indicators of the "existential crisis" posed by climate change.
Nalleli Cobo, a 22-year-old activist who collaborated with Greta Thunberg on climate campaigns, expressed her desire for political leaders to experience the consequences of fossil fuel production firsthand. She resides in California, where she attributes her ovarian cancer diagnosis at 19 to the "toxic air" from nearby oil and gas wells.
Biden has undertaken a historic initiative to promote green manufacturing, offering substantial funding for clean energy projects. However, some young activists argue that his actions have not been forceful enough to wean the United States off fossil fuels.
On Friday, California filed a lawsuit against five major global oil companies, alleging that they caused significant damages and downplayed the risks associated with fossil fuels.
Leading scientists have warned that the world is likely to experience record-high temperatures in the next five years, with a high probability of exceeding the crucial 1.5-degree Celsius temperature rise threshold.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has organised a Climate Ambition summit during the General Assembly, aiming to accelerate global efforts to combat climate change, involving governments, private sector organisations, and financial institutions.
Mejia emphasised the significance of world leaders' actions during the summit, stating, "History will remember their action or inaction. And if we're lucky, human beings will be around to remember what (world leaders) did in this summit."