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The UN General Assembly will open under the COVID cloud

Here's today's foreign policy briefing: The 76th UN General Assembly begins in New York the left wins in NorwayGeneral election and US Secretary of State Antony Blink faces the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Afghanistan policy.

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Here's today's foreign policy briefing: The 76th UN General Assembly begins in New York the left wins in NorwayGeneral election and US Secretary of State Antony Blink faces the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Afghanistan policy.

If you would like to receive Morning Letter in your inbox every weekday, please log in here.

The 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) officially opens today in New York as a number of leaders and diplomats begin to gather for the world's largest diplomatic event. Although the number of participants is expected to be higher than last year, the fact that the countries that participate virtually will still be more reliant on the number of countries in person as a reminder of the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.

Those who make it to New York don't need a fleet of limos to get around: delegations are limited to five people (there were only two last year).

This week will be one of the formalities as a new UNGA President – Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives – replaces the Turkish Volkan Bozkir and the agenda is set.

Attention will rise next week when the leaders take turns turning to the body during the general debate. The White House confirmed on Monday that President Joe Biden will deliver his address in person on September 21st. Traditionally, Brazil will deliver the first address, which means that Biden Jair Bolsonaro will follow. Other leaders will speak daily through September 27th.

Biden's speech. Biden's presence reaffirms his commitment to the panel in a year when promises of a new multilateral approach clashed with old habits, particularly during the ten-day Israel-Gaza conflict in May when the United States stood alone while other Security Council states signed a ceasefire.

Quad meeting. Biden is not yet scheduled for one-on-one interviews with world leaders, but has at least one high-level engagement planned this month: a face-to-face meeting with the leaders of the other quad nations of Australia, India, and Japan on September 24th.

Agenda items. With the UN's COP26 climate change conference coming up in November, climate change is expected to be high on the list of concerns alongside the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

Runaway nations. While events will be highly scripted, the geopolitical upheavals of the past year mean that not everything is predetermined. Afghanistan, now operating under a Taliban-led transitional government, has no clear representative, while Guinea and Myanmar face similar problems thanks to the recent coups.

As Colum Lynch, Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch report in Foreign Policy, the United States and China have already engaged in the spirit of diplomacy and reached an agreement to prevent Myanmar's junta from speaking at the gathering. The deal means that Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, who was appointed prior to the coup, will remain in his position for the time being, but will have to "shut up" during the event.

FP at UNGA. From September 17th, FP will provide a one-week pop-up newsletter – U.N. In short – to cover the day's events. Also on September 17th, FP reporters Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer will hold a live conference call from 11:00 a.m.

What we are following today

Change to Støre. Jonas Gahr Støre becomes Norway's next Prime Minister after his Labor party won the most seats in the country's parliamentary elections. The victory ends the almost eight-year tenure of Conservative Erna Solberg and means that all five Nordic states are now led by left-wing governments.

Støre will need the support of the Socialist Left Party and the Agrarian Center Party to get a slim majority, although some leftists would prefer a broader five-party coalition that would include the Greens and the Communist Red Party. A closer center-left coalition would avoid awkward questions about Norway's dependence on the oil industry, as the Greens propose phasing out fossil fuels by 2035.

John Kerry leaves India. The US climate commissioner John Kerry ends a trip to India today and is confident that New Delhi will announce new measures to reduce CO2 in the coming weeks. “We are making progress and I hope that the next six weeks will focus people's thoughts. Nobody likes being pushed around and I'm not here to do that, ”Kerry said. Although he didn't make any major commitments on his trip, he was able to announce a new funding mechanism aimed at attracting investment in India's renewable energy sector.

Blinken stands in front of the Senate. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the day after it was grilled by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. As reported by Foreign Policy's Robbie Gramer and Zinya Salfiti, Blinken's statement Monday previewed the strategy the Biden government could use to appease lawmakers: blame the previous government. Or as Blinken put it: “We have inherited a deadline. We have not inherited a plan. "

Guinea's coup. Guinea is in the middle of a week-long conference to prepare for a transitional government, France 24 reports after the coup leader made an inquiry to Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya. Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, the losing candidate in the 2020 presidential election, has announced that he will participate in the turnaround if asked. This week's talks follow pressure from both the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, which suspended Guinea because of the coup.

Our warming planet. The number of days in the year when temperatures reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) or more has doubled since the 1980s, according to a study conducted by the BBC. Although most high temperatures have been recorded in the Middle East, increasingly super high temperatures are being recorded in North America and Europe. "The increase is 100% due to the burning of fossil fuels," Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, told the BBC.

Researchers have taken a small step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by potty breeding a herd of cows. Scientists at an animal research laboratory in Dummerstorf trained the group of young cows in a "MooLoo", a special pen in which the animals could urinate – a process that only took 15 days.

"The cows are at least as good as kids aged 2-4, at least as fast," Lindsay Matthews, lead author of the study, told the Associated Press.

The eight gallons of urine a cow excretes per day can have a devastating impact on the environment by producing ammonia when mixed with cow dung and polluting the air with nitrous oxide. Matthews is confident that the same training method could be used for cow dung management, but acknowledged that stopping gas in cows – a major source of methane emissions – was beyond the realm of behavioral training. "They would explode," said Matthews.

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