Thousands to March on UN to Demand Biden End Fossil Fuels Ahead of Climate Summit

Thousands of people and hundreds of civil society organisations are expected to march in New York City this weekend to call on US President Joe Biden to use his executive powers to stop the expansion of fossil fuel projects in the country.

The march is one of over 400 marches, rallies and protests worldwide coordinated by the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York next week.

More than 600 civil society organisations and some 10,000 people from across the country are expected to attend the march in front of the UN in New York City, according to the organisers.

The Climate Ambition Summit, convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, hopes to extract commitments from world leaders to shorten national timelines to phase out fossil fuels.

The summit follows the release of the UN global stocktake report on progress towards the 2015 Paris Agreement targets last week.

The technical report, which will be a key reference document at the UN climate summit in Dubai in November, found that the world is drastically off track in limiting global warming to the 1.5C degrees target set in Paris eight years ago.

The report warned that the rapid scale-up of renewable energy and phase-out of fossil fuels are “indispensable” to correcting course towards the Paris Agreement targets.

Profits bolster the resilience of fossil fuel extraction

World leaders who received invitations to the UN climate summit last month were told that only countries that have demonstrated significant commitment to climate action will be allowed to participate.

The invitation, which was sent by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said that net-zero commitments not backed by action would not be sufficient to participate, according to reporting by the Guardian. Countries that did not meet the standards of climate policy ambition set by the UN can still observe the summit.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reportedly will not attend the UN climate summit out of fear of being excluded from the meeting due to the expansion of his government’s oil drilling in the North Sea.

However, the US is the world’s largest fossil fuel producer, but Biden is expected to attend the summit. However, the Inflation Reduction Act passed by the Biden administration has made nearly $400 billion in incentives and funding available for green projects in the country, creating a windfall of green investment.

“The more oil, gas and coal we burn, the more toxic air we breathe; the more heatwaves, fires, and floods we face, all while wealthy fossil fuels CEOs rake in record profits,” march organizers said in a press release.

“President Biden has the power to stop them by putting an end to the expansion of fossil fuels – ensuring that we all have clean air and water, and better health and safety for our communities,” said the march organizers.

The Biden administration has been under fire from environmental groups for not taking action on seven oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge issued in the waning days of the Trump administration. However, the US Interior Department this week cancelled the leases, saying they were legally flawed.

US oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron, meanwhile, have rebuffed calls to scale down fossil fuel production, electing to go in the opposite direction.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused a surge in profits for the world’s largest oil companies. Exxon Mobil announced in February that it made $56 billion in profits in 2022. The $6.3 million in profits made each hour is the most a Western oil company has ever earned in one year.

“July 2023 was the hottest month in recorded climate history. The unparalleled, deadly climate disasters sweeping the world seem to leave polluters unfazed,” said Tesneem Essop, Executive Director of the Climate Action Network. “Historical emitters like Norway, the UK and the USA are announcing new fossil fuel projects even as floods, fires and heatwaves take over our lives.”

The global movement against fossil fuels grows

The march at UN headquarters is part of a growing global movement to demand an end to fossil fuels. In recent months, there have been large-scale protests in countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Australia.

More than 2,400 climate protestors were arrested this week during a three-day blockade of a major highway outside of the Hague in the Netherlands.

The protest was organized by the Scientist’s Rebellion, a group led by academics urging an end to the estimated $37 billion in fossil fuel subsidies provided by the Dutch government each year.

In the United States, climate scientist Rose Abramoff and five other women were arrested this week for chaining themselves to a fracked gas pipeline in West Virginia. The arrest makes Abramoff the first climate scientist to face criminal civil disobedience charges for a climate protest in the United States.

“My greatest fear is the world we’re creating for future generations,” Abramoff told the climate newsletter HEATED. “That outweighs the fear I have of the personal consequences that I might suffer.”

Image Credits: The Lancet Countdown.

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