Climate: In New York, thousands urge Biden to "end fossil fuels"

As the UN General Assembly opens on Monday, this event launches a week of actions for the end of the use of coal, oil or natural gas, the main driver of global warming.

Between 25,000 and 75,000 people marched in New York on Sunday, September 17, to demand an end to the exploitation of fossil fuels. REUTERS - EDUARDO MUNOZ

By: RFI Follow


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With our special envoy in New York, Thomas Harms

Tens of thousands of people marched this Sunday in the streets of Manhattan, New York. And three days before the opening of the Climate Ambition Summit, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, they have a message: "There is one person on Earth who can change the course of history, and he is not going to the summit of climate ambition this week. And his name is President Biden," said Veyda, one of the march's organizers.

The signs read "Biden, end fossil fuels," "Fossil fuels are killing us," and "I didn't vote for fires and floods."

US President Joe Biden is on the list of world leaders who will meet from today at the UN for the General Assembly, whose official opening is scheduled for Tuesday.

"We will not let cynicism prevail"

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had promised that only countries with credible plans, including phasing out fossil fuels, would be invited to attend Wednesday's Climate Ambition Summit. But Joe Biden has not planned to go there.

The US president has promised to make the climate crisis his priority if re-elected, he also passed a $369 billion climate law last year. But, at the same time, he is criticized for approving the Willow project in Alaska, one of the largest oil drilling projects in recent decades.

Among the demonstrators, a renowned New York elected official: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who presented the Green New Deal to Congress ten years ago: "We must act urgently. On the climate issue, we will not let go. We will not let cynicism prevail. We will not give up.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, elected Democrat of New York and muse of the left of the American left, spoke at the demonstration in New York, September 17, 2023. AP - Bryan Woolston

In other words, according to the protesters, it is time for the United States to turn away from oil and gas and make a real transition to renewable energy. They also want the federal government to stop new fossil fuel projects, to declare climate change a national emergency.

In a UN climate report released this month, international experts said greenhouse gas emissions are expected to peak in 2025 – followed by a sharp decline thereafter – if humanity sets a goal of limiting global warming, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Treaty, ratified in 2015, has encouraged multiple climate actions, but "there is still much to be done on all fronts," says the report, the next working basis for COP28 in Dubai at the end of the year.

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  • United States
  • Environment
  • Climate