UN Latest: Ukraine, Climate Dominate General Assembly Opening

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the perils of climate change dominated early remarks at the UN General Assembly’s annual debate, while the US and its allies warned that the conflict may last years.

(Bloomberg) — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the perils of climate change dominated early remarks at the UN General Assembly’s annual debate, while the US and its allies warned that the conflict may last years.

President Joe Biden addressed pressure from some nations for Ukraine to enter into peace talks, saying the world must stand up to Russia’s violation of the UN’s founding principles.

“No nation wants this war to end more than Ukraine,” Biden said as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy looked on from the UN General Assembly hall. “We strongly support Ukraine in its effort to bring about a diplomatic resolution that delivers a just and lasting peace.”

Read more: US, Allies See War in Ukraine Grinding On, Seek Long-Term Plan

On climate, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered a blunt assessment, saying “the fossil fuel age has failed.

“Every country is feeling the heat but I’m not sure our leaders are feeling the heat,” Guterres said.

Click here for the full schedule of speakers. 

Essential reading:

  • What to watch for this week: UN Agenda Topped by Ukraine War, Climate Fight, Midtown Gridlock
  • Read The Big Take on global fragmentation: The Global Economy Enters an Era of Upheaval
  • Bloomberg geoeconomist Jennifer Welch breaks down China’s effort to exert more influence at the UN
  • Read Iain Marlow’s World Disappointed by the UN Now Looks Elsewhere for Answers. And watch here.

(All times are NY)

Biden Draws Applause at UN With Defense of Ukraine (10:47 a.m.)

Biden drew applause from the UN General Assembly with his pledge to stick with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.

“Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequences,” Biden said in a speech on the first day of the General Assembly’s annual debate. “We have to stand up to this naked aggressor today to deter would-be aggressors tomorrow.”

Biden also cited floods in Libya and rising temperatures around the world as signs the world must do more to fight climate change.

“Taken together these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof our world,” Biden said.

Lula Sees Sweeping UN Reforms (10 a.m.)

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for big changes in institutions like the UN that he said have failed to successfully prevent wars, combat climate change or address the needs of the world’s poor.

The leftist leader, who has long sought a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the developing world, said Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine “exposes our collective inability to enforce” the organization’s principles.

He also urged wealthy nations to follow through on unfulfilled financial pledges to help poorer countries combat climate change. And he cited disparities in the amount of funding the International Monetary Fund had made available while saying the “unequal and distorted representation on the board of the IMF and World Bank is unacceptable.”

UN Chief Has Sharp Words for Russia Over Ukraine (9:48 a.m.)

Guterres called out Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying it had “unleashed a nexus of horror” that had shattered lives and destroyed dreams.

“If every country fulfilled its obligations under the Charter, the right to peace would be guaranteed,” Guterres said in his speech opening the UN General Assembly’s annual session. “When countries break those pledges, they create a world of insecurity for everyone. Exhibit A —  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Guterres also urged countries to phase out all oil and gas. The 1.5C temperature target global leaders agreed to when they signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 is still within reach, but the world’s richest countries and fossil fuel companies must act, he said.

“If fossil fuel companies want to be part of the solution they must lead the transition to renewable energy,” Guterres said. “No more dirty production, no more fake solutions no more bankrolling climate denial.”

Turkey Seeks to Charm US Investors (8:24 a.m.)

Turkey’s Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek will meet with bankers in New York in an effort to lure much-needed investment for his nation’s troubled economy.

Simsek’s mission is critical to allay investors wary of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s seeming recent embrace of more conventional policies to tighten monetary policy after pursuing unorthodox approaches for years. Simsek will speak at an investment conference co-hosted by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the Turkey-US Business Council before Thursday’s interest-rate decision.

US Sees Chance to Reset Thai Alliance (6:00 a.m.)

Thailand’s recently elected Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is said to be bringing his incoming military chief for security talks with the US. Washington sees the new leader and his government as its best opportunity in two decades to get its alliance with Thailand back on track after ties were strained under the previous military-backed regime. While Srettha is seeking an audience with President Joe Biden, he’s indicated that any rapprochement won’t come at the expense of China.

Lula, Zelenskiy to Meet on UN Sidelines After Tensions (Monday)

Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine will hold their first in-person meeting this week in New York in an attempt to bridge differences over Russia’s invasion and how to end it. 

The long-awaited encounter will be on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and comes as the US and other allies have sought to rally nations from the so-called Global South, including Brazil, that have remained skeptical of their efforts to ramp up pressure on Russia.

Germany Urges Focus on Russia’s ‘Criminal’ War (Monday)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz issued a warning to the world ahead of the UN General Assembly, calling the Ukraine war one of the biggest challenges to the post World War II order.

“This week will always be about what the Russian president has done with his criminal war of aggression against Ukraine,” Scholz told reporters shortly before a speech about UN efforts on a series of ambitions known as the Sustainable Development Goals. “We will also insist very concretely that the world community feels committed to its principles.”

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