Sunday, September 22, 2019
This week, foreign leaders will convene in New York for the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.
Monday will kick off with a Climate Summit, hard on the heels of Friday's massive global Climate Strike. Climate strike crowds worldwide were estimated at 4 million people. According to a recent Washington Post poll, two-thirds of Americans believe that Trump is doing too little to address climate issues, and 4 out of 10 Americans believe that climate change is a "crisis."
French President Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and other world leaders will be in attendance at Monday's UN Climate Summit. The format will involve national leaders making short remarks highlighting bold initiatives and climate pledges. The US, which will be represented by Marcia Bernicat, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, has not been invited to speak.
But where in the world is the US President?
Not satisfied with simply not attending the Climate Summit, Trump has organized his own conflicting meeting to discuss religious persecution. And not only does Trump's meeting conflict with the Climate Summit, but Trump's gathering is scheduled to be held in the same building -- what some observers, including Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, see as a deliberate effort to distract attention from the climate issue.
Given the rising concern about climate change, particularly among US young people, Trump's decision to schedule his meeting directly opposite the Climate Summit seems strategically tin-eared and self-destructive. As the poll shows, 80 % of Americans already think the Administration is falling short in this area -- very likely, the percentage of young voters who think this is even higher. These young folks have a lot of energy and a lot at stake -- they are not soon going to forget the Trump Administration's deliberate efforts to undermine those who are trying to take action.
For more background on human rights and climate, see this background info compiled by the OHCHR.
For Greta Thunberg's disarming Ted Talk on climate change and future generations, click here.