Biden warns of climate risks and Russia's 'naked aggression' in UN General Assembly speech

US President addresses UNGA for the third time

President Joe Biden addresses the 78th UN General Assembly in New York. AP
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President Joe Biden warned of the risks of climate change and Russia's “naked aggression” in Ukraine as he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

As the world faces myriad crises, Mr Biden sought to strike a unifying tone on key issues including creating consensus on tackling the climate crisis.

“I understand the duty my country has to lead in this critical moment, to work with countries in every region,” Mr Biden said in his third address to the General Assembly since taking office in 2021.

“The United States seeks a more secure, more prosperous, more equitable world for all people because we know our future is bound to yours.”

On the Middle East, Mr Biden reiterated his support for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians as well as the need to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“We continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, two states for two people,” he said.

He also touted the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor as an example of “regional integration”..

Climate change factored heavily into his speech. The 80-year-old leader referenced natural disasters around the world, including the recent flooding in Libya, as evidence of the threat that a warming world presents.

“Taken together, these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof our world,” Mr Biden said.

“From day one of my administration, the United States has treated this crisis as the existential threat that it is, not only to us, but to all of humanity.”

Mr Biden also sought to outline Washington's commitment to democracies around the world and to protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries.

Joe Biden hails partners in the Middle East

Joe Biden hails partners in the Middle East

“We will not retreat from the values that make us strong,” he said. “We will defend democracy, our best tool to meet the challenges we face around the world.”

As the war in Ukraine drags on, Mr Biden, who has been struggling to maintain US support for the conflict as Republicans assail him over its cost, tried to rally the global community around Kyiv.

“Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalise Ukraine without consequence,” Mr Biden said.

“But I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the UN Charter to appease an aggressor, can any member state feel confident that they are protected? If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?

“The answer is no. We must stand up to this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.” His words were met with applause, though Russia's ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya merely stared at his phone.

Updated: September 20, 2023, 5:26 AM