75,000 march on the United Nations to demand action against global warming
Members of the Communist Party USA and Young Communist League participate in the U.N. climate march in New York. | via CPUSA

NEW YORK—Even after 75,000 people, including a contingent from the Communist Party USA, marched through Manhattan to demand global action to deal with global warming, global leaders speaking at the United Nations afterward downplayed the threat—except for Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva.

Stepping to the rostrum there on Sept. 18, the day after the march, Lula, also the longtime leader of Brazil’s Workers Party, not only tackled the climatic catastrophe rapidly advancing upon the world but income inequality, too.

The rest of the leaders, including Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden, concentrated on convincing countries to join the opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine, a war where da Silva has pointedly remained neutral despite U.S. urging and prodding.

CPUSA co-chair Joe Sims reported approximately 60 party members, including from the Young Communist League, participated in the march.

“We marched fists up, 75,000 strong for climate justice at the March To End Fossil Fuels!” Sims said following the event. The march began at 52nd Street and 7th Avenue and wound its way to near the U.N. on Manhattan’s East Side.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on Sept. 19, 2023. | Mary Altaffer / AP

Sims reported labor activists, racial equality and immigrant justice groups, women’s organizations, and others lined up along Broadway and, while marching, urged United Nations leaders to act now against global warming.

“Activists from many different peace organizations, including CPUSA, were there to point out the elephant in the room: That the U.S. military is the single largest institutional emitter of fossil fuels in the world,” the party’s report on the march said.

The activists “called for major cuts to the U.S. military budget, and moving those resources to serve human needs, including green jobs and building a renewable energy infrastructure.”

The march opened a week-long U.N. Climate Ambition Summit, called by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the only leader, other than Lula, who seemed to be listening.

Biden did give a nod to global warming in his speech. “This year, the world’s on track to meet the climate finance pledge made under the Paris Agreement: $100 billion to raise collectively,” he said, according to a U.N. press release. “But we need more investment on public and private sector, especially in places that have contributed so little to global emissions.” He spent the rest of the time urging the globe to unite against Russia in defense of Ukraine.

Lula was blunter, and spoke longer on global warming, the U.N. reported. He also tackled the yawning chasm between the rich and the rest of us.

The world has “intersecting crises” of the coronavirus, “security, racism, intolerance, and stable access to food and clean water,” the Brazilian leader said. “More must be done to ensure that inequalities do not continue to grow.

“The ten richest billionaires have more wealth than the poorest 40% of humanity,” he declared. But inequality is more than just that number, he warned.

“The destiny of every child born on this planet seems to be decided while they’re still in their mother’s womb. The part of the world where their parents live, and the social class their family belongs to, will determine whether or not that child will have opportunities throughout life,” he added.

“Unequal access to safe and secure food and water, healthcare, education, and employment opportunities all exacerbate inequalities and have amplified by growing geopolitical tensions,” including over global warming, Lula said. He demanded “urgent, comprehensive international cooperation to avoid a worsening climate crisis.

“It knocks on our door, destroys our homes, our cities, our countries, kills, and imposes suffering and losses on our brothers. It is the vulnerable populations in the Global South who are most affected by the loss and damage caused by climate change.”

Members of the Communist Party USA and Young Communist League participated in the U.N. climate march in New York. At left is CPUSA National Co-Chair Joe Sims. | via CPUSA

Lula cited his administration’s 48% decrease in deforestation of the Amazon River watershed—the earth’s largest remover of carbon emissions—and the fact that 87% of Brazil’s electric power “comes from renewable sources.” Brazil also previously hosted a summit of eight South American nations to discuss rainforest protections and the climate crisis.

Left unsaid, at least in the U.N. release, was Lula’s predecessor, right-wing ex-military man Jair Bolsonaro, who often called himself “the Donald Trump of the global South,” encouraged massive deforestation of the Amazon.

“In Brazil, we have already proven once and will prove again, that a socially fair and environmentally sustainable model is possible. We are at the forefront of energy transition, and our matrix is already one of the cleanest in the world,” da Silva said.

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Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.