Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to the United Nations General Assembly as the planet finds itself at a climate crossroads – and as Canada faces an increasingly strained relationship with the world’s fastest-growing economy. fastest in the world.
The day before he left for New York, Trudeau rocked the House of Commons with “credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to last June’s fatal shooting of a Sikh leader in Surrey, British Columbia.
It’s a striking contextual backdrop for the week ahead at the United Nations, a place where ambitious visions of a prosperous and peaceful future often must contend with harsh political realities.
This year’s theme for what the international diplomatic corps calls “high-level week” at the UN is “Rebuilding Trust and Reviving Global Solidarity” – two products that seem hard to come by these days.
“Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil constitutes an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau told MPs.
“This is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves.”
He said he confronted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in person about the allegations at last week’s G20 summit in New Delhi. An Indian diplomat was also expelled on Monday.
Modi, however, confirmed earlier this month that he would not attend the a*sembly in person. Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar intervenes.
Trudeau, meanwhile, will have many other crises to consider as he jets south for two days of meetings with world leaders, environmental advocates and civil society luminaries.
The climate crisis has become even more real in 2023, with a record wildfire season in Canada, catastrophic flooding in Libya, and a record 23 separate billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States. United in the first eight months only.
Russia’s war in Ukraine continues unabated, with global anxiety heightened by last week’s grim meeting in Vladivostok between President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The uneasy truce of the UN Black Sea grain deal has collapsed, virtually cutting off the developing world from one of the most vital sources of food, cooking oil and fertilizer of the planet.
West Africa has seen no fewer than eight military coups since 2020, most recently in Niger and Gabon, while Haiti remains plagued by political chaos and gang violence, all in in the middle of an uncontrolled cholera epidemic.
And the UN’s ambitious efforts to tick off a long list of sustainable development goals — a particular goal for Trudeau — have largely stalled, hampered by political intransigence and sluggish post-pandemic economies.
“This is a serious moment in the life of the world,” said Bob Rae, Canada’s amba*sador to the UN.
“There was sort of a school of thought that said, ‘Every day everything gets better, it doesn’t get worse.’ At the moment we cannot say that.
In fashion now
A report released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration listed the highest number of climate-related disasters ever recorded in a single calendar year — a year that still has three months to go.
So far, 2023 ranks as the ninth warmest year in the continental United States in 129 years, with new temperature records set last month in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida and a season of potentially historic hurricanes are underway.
“The world is increasingly aware that climate change is not a future event, but a current event,” Rae said.
“This is a problem of today, and it is as much about resilience, adaptation and real investment in infrastructure and other ways to protect the health and safety of people facing the current crisis, which will continue.”
The sense of urgency was palpable on streets around the world on Friday and throughout the weekend, with ma*sive protests in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and the United States.
Thousands of people marched in cities across Canada in a coordinated show of force ahead of UN meetings and Climate Week in New York, where protests culminated Sunday with a ma*sive rally that attracted tens of thousands of people.
Instead of talking about ambitious but unrealistic new emissions targets, the U.N. will instead pressure its members on how they plan to meet existing targets, said Catherine Abreu, founder and executive director of the climate group Destination Zero .
“It’s a moment of honesty and inflection,” Abreu said at a news conference last week.
“We must realize that despite the goals we have set for ourselves over the last decade, we are not keeping our promises. »
In particular, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will focus on some of the biggest gaps between promises made and promises kept, one of which is the shift away from fossil fuels, she added.
“Countries – including, in particular, large producers like Canada – will be asked how they plan to align their fossil fuel production… with their pledges under international climate treaties,” Abreu said.
“It remains an open question how Canada will align the positions it takes in these international forums with the actions it takes here at home. »