United Nations climate summit led to strikes

Jocelyn Sandusky, Reporter

The United Nations held a special climate summit amid their annual general assembly, on Sept. 23. 

Secretary-General António Guterres organized the conference in an attempt to bring leaders from government, business, and civil society together to confront climate change. According to the UN’s opening press release, it is imperative to stop temperatures from climbing another 1.5 degrees celsius to prevent irreparable damage across the world.

The summit allowed countries to pledge their commitment toward becoming more environmentally friendly and showcase their plans to take action. According to the UN, “Many countries used the Summit to demonstrate next steps on how by 2020 they will update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) with the aim to collectively reduce emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030 and prepare national strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century.”

Businesses followed suit and proved they are also committed to the fight for planet conservation. “Over 100 business leaders delivered concrete actions to align with the Paris Agreement targets, and speed up the transition from the grey to green economy, including asset-owners holding over $2 trillion in assets and leading companies with combined value also over $2 trillion,” according to the UN.

The summit took place days after the largest climate protest in history, according to USA Today. The global strike was a call on leaders to take substantial steps toward protecting and conserving the planet.

A local strike took place in front of the Chevron corporate office in Bakersfield on Camino Media. Central California Environmental Justice Network’s Bakersfield branch organized the protest. According to Cesar Aguirre, the community organizer, the protest was a call on Gavin Newsom to create and implement a setback distance of at least 2,500 feet for oil and gas from residential areas. 

According to Aguirre, Chevron has been under investigation for two active spills, one of which has spilled over 80 million gallons since 2003, since June of this year.

People of all ages attended the protest, and there was a large number of young people among the 60 to 100 people in the crowd, according to Aguirre.

The United States, however, was not represented at the summit. President Trump made an unexpected appearance at the conference but was not invited to speak at the event. According to Business Insider, “Countries like the US, Japan, Australia, and South Africa were not invited to speak at the event because of their continued investment in fossil fuels like coal that produce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Despite absences from a few key countries, “70 countries announced they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so,” according to the UN.

Even China, one of the world’s biggest emissions polluters said it would “cut emissions by over 12 billion tons annually, and would pursue a path of high quality growth and low carbon development,” according to the UN.

 Despite the momentum and excitement that spurred from the event, there are almost 200 countries in the UN, and not even half promised to do more to combat climate change.