This week’s cavalcade of climate events around the UN General Assembly has once again paralyzed New York City as thousands of government officials, corporate executives, environmentalists, academics, sustainability activists and environmental-social-governance investors have descended on the Big Apple for this annual rite.
A city gridlock alert has been in effect the entire week.
Average vehicle speeds in Midtown Manhattan have dropped to below 5 miles per hour.
With traffic grinding to a halt, business deliveries have been delayed, personal mobility has been restricted, and commercial activity has slowed sharply as The City That Never Sleeps has been transformed into The City That Can’t Move.
As in years past, most New Yorkers have simply shrugged off the inconvenience while laughing at the emissions hypocrisy of all the climate-conscious tourists arriving in private jets and shuttling around town in SUVs and joking about all the carbon credits the UN will need to purchase to offset the excess idling traffic.
Instead of the usual “Fuhgeddaboudit” response, the public really needs to start appreciating the true meaning of climate season in New York and absorbing its two-fold message for the masses.
First, Climate Week NYC, as these seven days are called, is the country’s annual reminder the 40-year UN-led climate crusade will not go away of its own accord if we simply ignore it.
There is too much political and financial capital vested in the movement at this point.
Climate change theory is also impervious to reason and ridicule.
That man-made global warming has become a running joke for many Americans and has never polled well with voters has not stopped the climate government-industrial complex from using nondemocratic means and backdoor channels to implement its policy agenda.
At this late stage of the game, only dispositive political force and legal action will be able to reverse all the US climate regulations being passed by unelected administrators at the federal, state and local government levels.
For those not keeping score, these would include recent bans on such things as gas stoves and furnaces, portable generators and internal-combustion-engine vehicles.
Second, we should see the temporary city shutdown from this week’s climate convocation as an annual warning of what the UN-led climate movement has in store for the broader economy with its anti-fossil-fuel agenda.
For the past 200 years, fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas have been the primary driver of economic growth and industrial development worldwide, raising living standards, increasing individual freedoms and spreading democracy in the process.
From a technological and economic perspective, there is no energy source — renewable or otherwise — to transition to besides fossil fuels without sacrificing economic growth and endangering human life.
Catchy euphemistic phrases such as “degrowth,” “deindustrialization” and “demand management” are meant to obscure this fact.
Despite this reality, with every passing year, the anti-fossil-fuel rhetoric ratchets up still further.
This week’s climate festivities around the city were notably punctuated by several pop-up protests calling for an end to fossil-fuel use.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has described the fossil-fuel industry as “the polluted heart of the climate crisis,” convened this week’s UN Climate Ambition Summit by noting the world’s continued reliance on fossil fuels has “opened the gates of hell” for humanity.
In recent months, he has started referring to global warming as “global boiling.”
Even the slogan of Climate Week NYC has become more strident.
This year’s theme of “We Can. We Will.” is decidedly more categorical and defensive than 2022’s optimistic rallying cry of “Getting It Done.”
From here on in through the Paris Agreement’s 2030 emissions deadline, the going will get tougher for the fossil-fuel industry, with a UN declaration of a systemwide global climate emergency increasingly likely in the coming years.
Then the gloves will be off when it comes to weaponizing US environmental and other regulations against the industry, using the COVID-19 pandemic as the template.
At that point, every week will be like Climate Week in New York.
Paul Tice is a former Wall Street energy research analyst, adjunct professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of “The Race to Zero: How ESG Investing Will Crater the Global Financial System” (Encounter Books), coming in January.