In New York, heads of states addressed the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, as Secretary-General António Guterres warned, “We are on the edge of an abyss,” as the world faces the mounting crises of the pandemic, inequity, conflict and the climate catastrophe. At his General Assembly debut, President Biden called for unity and diplomacy, though critics say his administration’s rhetoric and actions are stirring up a new Cold War with China. Biden also addressed the climate crisis.
President Joe Biden: “The scientists and experts are telling us that we’re fast approaching a point of no return, in the literal sense. To keep within our reach the vital goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, every nation needs to bring their highest possible ambitions to the table when we meet in Glasgow for COP26.”
Biden pledged to double U.S. aid to poorer countries bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, but activists say Biden’s promises are far too meager considering the U.S. is historically the world’s worst polluter.
In other climate pledges, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China would stop funding new coal-fired power plants overseas and would help develop low-carbon energy sources in poorer nations.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for a declaration to end the Korean War, and for talks to resume with North Korea.
Peru’s recently elected President Pedro Castillo said he came as a representative of the poor and the marginalized, and called for vaccine equity to overcome the pandemic.
President Pedro Castillo: “On behalf of Peru, I want to propose the signing of a global agreement between heads of state and the owners of patents to guarantee universal access to vaccines for all people on the planet, with no discrimination on the basis of privilege.”
Iran’s new leader, Ebrahim Raisi, said nuclear talks should lead to the lifting of brutal U.S. sanctions on Iran.
President Ebrahim Raisi: “Sanctions, and especially sanctions on medicine at the time of COVID-19 pandemic, are crimes against humanity.”
Meanwhile, Brazil’s health minister has tested positive for COVID-19, just hours after he accompanied President Jair Bolsonaro, who is unvaccinated, to the General Assembly.