New York Hosts Anti-Climactic Week To Protect the Environment*

The climate crisis train has long since left the station, and festive get-togethers don’t seem a way to facilitate urgent action.

The “Climate Lolapalooza” which ends next Sunday in New York is likely to prove heavy on carbon footprints and light on results.

The city is the host of Climate Week in partnership with the United Nations. There are hundreds of events filling a rich metropolis that is years behind on basic climate reforms.

When it comes to dramatic oratory, Antonio Guterres stood out, referencing the “horrendous heat with horrendous effects” we are experiencing in 2023. The U.N. secretary-general declared that “humanity opened the gates of hell.”

When it comes to being tone deaf and having bad timing, Rishi Sunak, the billionaire British prime minister, chose that Thursday to announce he is pulling back on the British schedule to reach “global net zero” by 2050.

Other countries, businesses and even his Conservative Party immediately criticized Sunak’s plans to loosen deadlines and the implementation of alternative sources of energy. The prime minister was elected with zero popular votes when the party chose him to replace the foolish Liz Truss. He used the lame and ideological excuse, not an economic one, for turning back the clock: that green energy is always synonymous with a high cost to the public.

Climate Week in New York was created in 2009, six years before the 2015 Paris Agreement was signed. The week is rich in spectacle and declarations of goodwill and also comes with a dose of hypocrisy, such as the co-sponsorship of McKinsey consultants, a firm denounced by its own employees two years ago for having a client portfolio rich in businesses that defile the planet.

The United Nation’s stage is of undeniable importance for spreading environmental awareness, beyond being the obvious forum for promoting initiatives and regional cooperation. As the climate emergency train has long left the station, festive events don’t seem the way to facilitate urgent action.

It is ironic to live in the host city of Climate Week, where I failed to convince my neighbors to sign up for a free composting program the city offered our street. A simple elevator trip to deposit leftover food seemed too much of a sacrifice. What passes for recycling in my building is piling up and packaging materials that will end up placed in garbage dumps.

Changing habits and adapting depends on local cultures, especially because the environmental deterioration coincides with the impoverishment of the information ecosystem. Just as the reactionary Sunak believes that the market god is the solution for the environment, I meet New Yorkers who still react to the prohibition of incandescent light bulbs, in effect here since August, as a sort of insult to human rights, a leftist conspiracy.

The time and fossil energy spent in the exalted week to protect the planet do not seem to be reflected in real change during the rest of the year. But I suspect that another form of exaltation is beginning to have an effect. It is the healthy application of organized ecological activism that protests the status quo, and which made itself quite visible these past days.

*Editor’s Note: This article is available in its original language version with a paid subscription.

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About Jane Dorwart 200 Articles
BA Anthroplogy. BS Musical Composition, Diploma in Computor Programming. and Portuguese Translator.

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