NEW YORK - They arrived by the thousands, wearing gas masks and melting-snowmen costumes and carrying signs calling for an end of burning fossil fuels.
Climate Week started out with a bang as protesters inundated the streets of Midtown Manhattan from Sunday into Monday, calling for the United States to do more to combat climate change. The annual week-long conference arrives with extra urgency this year as the world is probably enduring its warmest year on record.
What to know about Climate Week
With natural disaster upon natural disaster, you'd be forgiven for thinking practically every week this summer has been climate week.
Climate Week NYC is one of the largest annual events focused on the issue of global warming, drawing together leaders from government, business, academia and the nonprofit sector for a bombardment of speeches and panels. It overlaps with the U.N. General Assembly, when thousands of diplomats and heads of state arrive in New York and start talks that set the stage for big climate negotiations scheduled for every fall. It often draws announcements from countries and companies aiming to tout their environmental stewardship.
Now in its 15th year, the event is run by a nonprofit called the Climate Group. This year, it is being held Sept. 17-24.
Who are the key leaders gathering?
Among the big-name U.S. politicians attending are Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), whose state just filed a broad lawsuit against some of the world's largest oil and gas companies over damage from storms and wildfires.
The White House is sending several top climate deputies, including U.S. special climate envoy John F. Kerry, senior adviser John Podesta and White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi.
What are protesters demanding?
Ahead of the protests, organizers issued an open letter to President Biden calling for his administration to end approving more fossil fuel extraction and phase out existing production. During the 2020 campaign, Biden promised to stop permitting new drilling on federal lands and waters, but following through has proved difficult legally.
"Right now, the United States continues to be approving record number of fossil fuel leases, and we must send the message right here, today, right now that that has got to end," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in a Sunday speech at the protests.
What does the Biden administration plan to do?
Climate Week doesn't tend to draw the biggest announcements from the United States or other countries. Those will instead be saved for COP28, a major U.N. climate conference scheduled in the United Arab Emirates later this year. But events like Climate Week lay the groundwork for bigger announcements.
Biden himself is planning to deliver remarks to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday before holding meetings with world leaders.
Biden's deputies in New York are expected to emphasize how the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act puts the country on course for reduction greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets under the Paris climate agreement.