Airstrikes in Syria and Climate Talks at the UN

A big day here at the United Nations. Over 120 heads of state are coming to the United Nations today to participate in a one day summit on climate change. But with US-lead airstrikes in Syria underway, talk of terrorism and Syria will almost certainly creep into the conversation.

President Obama is addressing the summit at 12:50 eastern time. Just prior to that, Ban Ki Moon is expected to give a press briefing. It will be interesting–and exceedingly important — to see how he categorizes the legality of the airstrikes. Typically, a military intervention like this would require Security Council approval. That did not happen. But there are plausible arguments that could grant this intervention a patina of legal legitimacy — and these arguments matter inside the UN and for those who have sworn to uphold the UN Charter. I would expect Ban Ki Moon to address this question directly.

Meanwhile, hundreds of heads of state, key leaders, and — swoon — Leonardo diCaprio — are meeting at the United Nations to talk about climate change. The day kicks off at 830 Eastern with remarks from Ban Ki Moon, New York mayor Bill diBlaso, and Leo, among others. Speeches from Presidents and Prime Ministers kick off at 9am. Each country is formally slotted for four minutes of podium time, with three sessions running simultaneously. If they stay on schedule Obama will probably hit the podium in the early afternoon, around 1250 EST.

What’s this all about? I speak with Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions who helps put this historic meeting at the United Nations in the larger context of international climate change diplomacy. It’s a 20 minute conversation that gives good background on the significance of today’s meeting and previews what we should expect to come of it all. 

All the statements