Historic crowds gathered in New York City this week to demand drastic action in the face of the ever worsening climate crisis. But at Tuesday’s Climate Summit at the United Nations headquarters, heads of state—most notably President Obama—did not come close to heeding the urgent calls for concrete action, say climate justice campaigners.
The summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to showcase “government, finance, business, and civil society” solutions to the climate crisis, according to a UN announcement. Politicians, corporations, and token civil society groups were invited to participate, while social movement organizations were excluded from the summit. Perhaps the most notable thing about this year’s meeting, which follows a similar gathering in Copenhagen in 2009, was the large role played by corporations in the day’s events and plenaries. Justin Gillis pointing out in the New York Times that “companies are playing a larger role than at any such gathering in the past.”
By contrast, numerous heads of state did not attend the summit, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.