Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dixie Fire in Greenville, California

A home is engulfed in flames as the Dixie Fire rages on in Greenville, California on August 5, 2021.(Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Top Scientists to Biden and Congress: 'Go Big on Climate... Do So Now'

"We must take immediate action to sharply reduce heat-trapping emissions to limit the worst climate change impacts, protect public health and lives, and limit economic harms."

Jessica Corbett

Ahead of next week's highly anticipated United Nations report on the climate emergency, 21 leading U.S. scientists on Friday urged President Joe Biden and federal lawmakers to "go big on climate action and to do so now."

"Climate change is here and already exerting a fearsome toll on people, critical ecosystems, and our economy."
—21 U.S. scientists

"As our nation reels from extreme heatwaves, drought, wildfires, and abnormally warm ocean waters fueled an early start to a projected more active than normal Atlantic hurricane season, we are reminded that climate change is here and already exerting a fearsome toll on people, critical ecosystems, and our economy," says the open letter (pdf) to key elected officials.

"Your leadership," the scientists write, "is urgently needed to seize the small window of opportunity that remains to limit the most catastrophic impacts of climate change now and for future generations."

The letter, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), emphasizes how "science shows that we must take immediate action to sharply reduce heat-trapping emissions to limit the worst climate change impacts, protect public health and lives, and limit economic harms."

"We also have a tremendous opportunity to invest in a climate-resilient economy, powered by clean energy, which can bring benefits to all communities in a just and equitable way," the letter adds, pointing to Biden's initial American Jobs Plan.

The scientists' message comes as the White House and Congress are working on a two-part infrastructure package and just days before a U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that will detail how much more planet-heating emissions can be pumped into the atmosphere before the world hits the 1.5°C threshold from the 2015 Paris agreement.

It is the first of three reports that will make up the IPCC's sixth major climate assessment in the past three decades—and the only part due to be released before COP 26, a U.N. climate summit that kicks off October 31 in Scotland. In anticipation of that event, Biden pledged in April to halve U.S. emissions from 2005 levels by 2030—which experts and activists argue is inadequate.

The nearly two dozen signatories to the new letter—many of whom have worked on IPCC assessments—call for pursuing "robust power sector emissions reduction targets of 80% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 100% reductions soon thereafter, designed and funded in such a way as to drive renewables online, while minimizing ratepayer impacts."

The scientists list ways that such goals can be achieved, from clean power tax incentives and grid updates to supporting a "fair transition for fossil fuel workers" and improving the efficiency of energy use.

"We also need the swift electrification of the transportation sector, through both standards that will both reduce pollution and drive electrification and congressional investment," they write, pushing for spending on school buses, incentives for electric vehicles (EVs), and charging infrastructure.

Biden on Thursday unveiled his plan for EVs and tailpipe pollution regulations. Noting the urgent need for "strong clean-car standards," UCS president Johanna Chao Kreilick said the administration's proposals "just aren't enough to take us where we need to go."

The letter highlights that "communities are already facing climate impacts and need federal policies and investments to help prepare and protect them," demanding funds for public health protections and dealing with disasters as well as the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps.

"Meeting the challenge of this moment," the letter warns, "is a scientific, economic, and moral imperative."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·


Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo