New York Climate Summit to focus world’s attention on climate crisis

By Fred Milligan 

Plans for New York Climate Week (September 17–24, 2023) will coincide with the opening week of the United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA). But this year is different in several ways. In addition to the normal UNGA activities, a special High Level Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit will evaluate each of the 17 SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015. UN General Secretary Antonio Gutierrez has called a one day Climate Ambition Summit for Wednesday, September 20th in connection with the SDG summit. This is not simply UN “business as usual” but an effort to focus the world’s attention on the pressing issues connected with the climate crisis.

ACT Climate Justice Ambassador Cornelia Fullkrug-Weitzel (l) joins ACT, WCC, LWF and other ecumenical bodies with tens of thousands marching through the streets of New York City in an earlier Climate Strike for climate justice. PHOTO: Simon Chambers/ACT

Against this backdrop, civil society, including the interfaith community, will lift up their voices on the streets of New York City so that they cannot be ignored by those within the walls of the UN buildings. A coalition of over a dozen national and international organizations, including ACT Alliance, are organizing activities for participants as they arrive from across the US and around the world.

Civil society activities have included almost daily classes in civil disobedience preparing for several actions related to financial institutions such as the Bank of America and the New York Stock Exchange. They’ll be scattered over the week preceding as well as during Climate Week, ecumenical and interfaith worship gatherings and during the March to End Fossil Fuel on Sunday the 17th.

The March could bring tens of thousands of concerned citizens together to speak as one voice to the US  government. It is an urgent call for more ambitious actions on the part of the US to thwart climate change. One demand is halting subsidies to fossil fuel companies. Another is curtailing further expansion of oil fields and instead developing a more robust infrastructure for renewable sources of energy production and use. 

ACT Alliance, in collaboration with Bread for the World and the Open Societies Foundation is also sponsoring a presentation on the intersection of Climate Change and Human Mobility on Tuesday September 19thLook to ACT News and ACT’s social media account for updates on climate- and SDG-related activities throughout the week.

Acting together, we can make a difference.

Rev. Fred Milligan is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and member of the Act Alliance Advocacy team who lives in New York City. He assists ACT as a liaison with local climate justice activities.