The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cassidy DiPaola,

Time for Biden to Declare a Climate Emergency

Amid New Reports, Advocates for Climate Emergency Declaration Urge Biden to Take Step Forward and Follow Through With Real Action

Attention Producers & Reporters: : Long-time Advocates for Climate Emergency Declaration are Available for Interview to Discuss Biden’s Opportunity for Rapid Climate Progress


According to reporting in the Washington Post, President Biden is considering declaring a climate emergency as early as this week. This key step forward is in line with the long-standing demands of frontline communities in the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition and would give the Administration powerful new tools to tackle the climate crisis in the absence of Congressional action.

For over a year, People vs. Fossil Fuels, a coalition of over 1,100 organizations across the United States, has been pushing the President to take exactly this step by declaring a climate emergency and using his executive authorities to stop the federal approval of all new fossil fuel projects and scale up the rapid deployment of renewable energy.

Last October, the coalition organized a week-long mobilization in Washington, D.C. that included a series of sit-ins at the White House designed to pressure Biden to declare a climate emergency. Since then, groups have kept pressure up with additional protests, petitions, sign-on letters, online campaigns, and more.

Declaring a climate emergency is a vitally important first step, given ongoing and record-setting droughts, heat waves, and floods across the country. However, in order for a Climate Emergency declaration to be effective, the Administration must use its authority under this executive action to directly target and reduce the use of fossil fuels. By declaring a climate emergency, President Biden could unlock a series of executive authorities that could have a major impact on driving down emissions and protecting communities from the impacts of fossil fuel development and climate disasters. These include:

  • Banning fossil fuel exports

  • Banning new federal fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters (including refusing to issue any new permits in the next five year offshore plan)

  • Unlock further use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to spur clean energy development, and more.

    • The People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition had been calling on President Biden to invoke the DPA for months - and in early June, the President finally heeded our calls. But now the President must step up and increase funding to spur domestic renewable energy production and slow the climate crisis.

A longer list of potential executive actions under a climate emergency, and their legal justification, are explained in the Climate President Action Plan that the People v. Fossil Fuels coalition has been promoting for months.

This action by the Administration creates a path forward to make real climate progress by stopping the approval of pending fossil fuel projects that threaten to make the climate crisis exponentially worse. Analysis from Oil Change International indicates that if the Biden Administration moves ahead with 20 major fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are currently under federal review, it would be the emissions equivalent of adding 403 million metric tons of climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions annually. Adding three pipelines already approved by the Administration increases that total to 750 million metric tons per year. This total is equal to the average annual emissions from 404 U.S. coal-fired power plants, larger than all 294 coal plants operating in the continental United States. Allowing more oil and gas development in Alaska, as the Administration has indicated it is inclined to do, would result in even more dangerous emissions.

Fossil Free Media is a nonprofit media lab that supports the movement to end fossil fuels and address the climate emergency.