Now that the Climate Marchers and Flood Wall Street protesters have been swept from city streets, President Obama will take a little breather from the numerous other crises facing the planet to come to New York for the U.N. Climate Summit.
The President is expected to press other world leaders "to work towards a strong global framework to cut emissions," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, though there will be some conspicuous absences from the roll sheet: Chinese President Xi Jinping, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper all have some other stuff going on, but surely they'll catch the livestream.
He's also set to announce a new executive order requiring government agencies to "factor climate resilience into the design of their international development programs and investments,” Earnest said. “The President will announce a suite of planned tools that will harness the unique scientific and technological capabilities of the United States to help vulnerable populations around the world strengthen their climate resilience." Resilience, in this case, means the ability of a place to survive the impacts of climate change, be it flooding, fires or extreme weather.
Obama also announced last week that the administration would dedicate $70 million in additional funding to solar power and increasing energy efficiency in rural areas, as well as new efficiency standards for packaged terminal air conditioners. These actions alone are expected to slash carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons each year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio beat Obama to the UN this morning, pledging to cut 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in addition to enacting strict regulations on all city owned buildings and, if necessary, private buildings as well. (Spoiler Mr. Mayor: It will be necessary.) Here's his statement in full:
Mr. Secretary General, thank you for your forceful leadership on climate change, and I welcome you all. It's an honor for New York to host this momentous gathering. So many people who are fighting to save our planet have converged on our city to spark greater action, as we saw powerfully at Sunday's march.
We know humanity is facing an existential threat. The cause is us - how we heat our homes, how we transport ourselves, the reckless way in which we live. This is an issue we all face. No one is spared. And our mutual need to survive should instill in us a kind of unity we so rarely experience.
For New York, this is particular urgent. Two years ago, Hurricane Sandy left 44 dead in our city. The storms to come will be far more lethal. We are not presented with options. We have only one choice - urgent, daring action.
New York City has already begun. Greenhouse gas emissions are down 19 percent from 2005, because of a plan instituted by my predecessor Michael Bloomberg, now the U.N.'s Special Envoy for cities and climate change.
This was vitally necessary, but now we must go even further. On Sunday, I announced that New York City is firmly committed to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We are now the largest city in the world to commit to such a bold plan. We will make energy efficiency upgrades to every city-owned building by 2025. And for private buildings, we'll set ambitious targets for voluntary reductions, but if steady progress is not made, we will issue clear mandates. Our long-term goal is bolder still - charting a path to a full transition from fossil fuels, and helping to build a more urgent international movement, starting with the C40 Climate Leadership Group.
Today, New York City is embarking on this path. We know we will not walk alone. We will press onward, joined by leaders from around the world who share this sense of urgency. And if necessary, we will push others along, because only through a global movement, can we act before it's too late.
Obama is expected to arrive in NYC at 11:30 a.m. and then head uptown to the UN, which, unlike the White House, is under very heavy security today. After his address to the General Assembly, the president will give a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative at the Sheraton hotel in Times Square, and later tonight he'll welcome visiting heads of state at the Waldorf-Astoria. Avoid midtown east at all costs...