Joe Biden’s desire to re-establish US leadership on the climate crisis will face a severe test this week at a summit the president hopes will rebuild American credibility and kickstart a spluttering international effort to stave off the effects of global heating.
Biden has invited 40 world leaders to a two-day virtual gathering starting on Earth Day, Thursday, as the opening salvo in negotiations leading to crunch United Nations talks in Scotland later this year. Scientists say the world is severely lagging in tackling the climate crisis and its heatwaves, storms and floods, with planet-heating emissions set to roar back following a dip due to coronavirus shutdowns.
Much will hinge upon cooperation between China, the world’s worst producer of planet-heating emissions, and the US, historically the worst polluter. On Saturday, John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, struck an agreement in Shanghai to urgently address what Kerry called the “beyond catastrophic” consequences of allowing temperatures to spiral upwards.
The compact is broadly seen as encouraging but comes amid US-China tensions on issues including human rights and trade. The US also faces a deficit in credibility after the presidency of Donald Trump, which saw the country leave the Paris climate accords and dismantle environmental protections.
Attorney general Merrick Garland said that the department will issue a public report on its findings if it finds “reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing”.
If the department does find that there is a pattern and practice, there are several possible ways to address this.
“The justice department also has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit to provide injunctive relief that orders the Minneapolis police department to change its policies and practices to avoid further violations,” he said. The local police department, in that situation, would enter a settlement agreement “to align policing practices with the law”.
“Most of our nation’s law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully,” Garland remarked, saying that he “strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices.”
“The challenges we face are deeply woven into our history,” he said, adding shortly thereafter, “we undertake this task with determination and urgency knowing that change cannot wait.”
DoJ to investigate ‘potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis’, Garland says
Minneapolis hopes for new beginning after guilty verdict
As George Floyd’s girlfriend waited for a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with murdering Floyd, one of the journalists crowded around her asked what being present outside the Minneapolis courthouse meant to her.
Courteney Ross, 45, who had given emotional testimony about her and Floyd’s struggle with opioid addiction, was candid: the courthouse was “not a comfortable place for many of us”.
“So many of us have a lot of negative experiences with the government,” she said. “I have had many bad encounters here.”
But that was the point of her being at the courthouse, Ross said: “I think it’s time we show what this building is supposed to be about, and it’s supposed to be about justice.”
“It needs to come back with that guilty verdict,” Ross said, “so we can start to believe again.”
Ross, who was wearing a cloth face mask printed with an image of Floyd’s face, waited outside the courthouse on Tuesday shoulder to shoulder with Toshira Garraway, a Black woman whose fiance, Justin Teigen, was found dead in a recycling truck in 2009 after fleeing from the St Paul police.
A guilty verdict in Floyd’s case would only be the beginning, Garraway said: there were hundreds more victims of police violence in Minnesota. “We need to reopen these cases, and [get] justice for the rest of these families,” she said.