The fracas over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already soaked up much of the media oxygen regarding this week's United Nations General Assembly opening session. Iran's lightning-rod president probably won't make it to Ground Zero, but he will be speaking to rapt audiences at Columbia University and the National Press Club on Monday. More interesting to me, though, is who's not coming: Pervez Musharraf. The embattled Pakistani leader is apparently so afraid of a coup that he's staying in Islamabad along with his prime minister and foreign minister. It's probably a wise precaution. After all, look what happened to Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as prime minister by a military junta while in New York for last year's U.N. meetings.
The main event this year is Monday's high-level day of fun, "Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change." The U.N. is billing it as "the largest meeting ever of world leaders on climate change," and more than 70 heads of state will reportedly be in attendance. Arnold Schwarzenegger is kicking off the day with a major address highlighting his own efforts as governor of California, which, if it were a country, would have one of the world's largest economies. Today is really a warm-up for December's U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali, when, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hopes, real decisions will be made that will lead to "Kyoto II"—a new, improved global agreement on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. (Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change told FP what this might look like back in June.)
I'll be covering the festivities live from New York courtesy of U.N. Dispatch and the U.N. Foundation, which invited me and a number of other bloggers to attend. (U.N. Dispatch will aggregate all of our posts here.) On Tuesday, I'll be blogging the U.N. General Assembly, which begins its year in earnest tomorrow with speeches from various heads of state—notwithstanding the best efforts of the UNGA's incoming president to turn these monologues into a dialogue (indulge me in being the first to make the joke that if the U.N. were truly serious about combating climate change, it would put a lid on some of the gasbags who will be speaking that day). On Wednesday and Thursday, I'll be at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. CGI has become a major player on climate change thanks to some innovative thinking and, well, Bill Clinton's Rolodex. Plus, Brangelina will be there, so it should be a pretty cool event.