The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cassidy DiPaola,

Frontline & Grassroots Climate Activists Mobilize Across America to Urge Biden to Declare a National Climate Emergency


Today, members of the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition carried out a number of actions across the country to pressure President Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop approving fossil fuel projects. Grassroots organizers from San Francisco, to Boston, to Washington, DC. took to the streets to demand that the Biden Administration to hold the line against fossil fuel expansion. This follows a week of climate emergency actions, including an Indigenous action led by Ikiya Collective at the Department of the Interior and a press conference with Members of Congress.

"Yesterday, Ikiya Collective shut down the Department of Interior demanding Biden declare a climate emergency and put Native lands back in Native hands by ending an era of approving fossil fuel projects that target our communities. Today, we joined Greenpeace outside the White House with the same message, Black, Indigenous and communities of the global majority are not your sacrifice zones." said Ikiya Collective's Jennifer K. Falcon.

"The climate crisis is moving towards us faster than the pace of Congressional compromise. It's high time that President Biden took executive action to declare this crisis an emergency and act swiftly to end the fossil fuel era," said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Santosh Nandabalan. "Biden must keep his promises and declare a climate emergency now."

Biden broke his promise to end new federal fossil fuel leasing, failed to stop mega-polluting projects like the Line 3 tar sands pipeline, and is backing false promises from the industry like "carbon capture & storage" that serve to extend the fossil fuel era.

"Like many people, I'm watching my favorite places on earth burn again this summer. Last summer, the fires came within two miles of my home on the Klamath," said Konrad Fisher, Director of the Water Climate Trust in a statement for the action in the Bay Area on Tuesday. "President Biden .. loves to talk tough about climate change and environmental justice, but won't stand up to the powerful interests that profit from the extraction and injustice. It's time for Biden to walk his talk, declare a climate emergency, and give future generations a fighting chance."

"Today we delivered a 16-foot Earth to the White House along with nearly half a million petition signatures demanding that President Biden declare a climate emergency," said Ashley Thomson, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA. "Last week more than 85 million people in the U.S. were under heat-related advisories and 42 states are currently in a drought. The climate emergency is happening. President Biden needs to act like it now if he wants to preserve a livable future."

"Today we joined with other groups across the country, our lands, to tell Biden to do what is right, declare a climate emergency," said Joye Braun, National Pipelines Organizer at Indigenous Environmental Network. "Our Indigenous communities are often the first to experience the disastrous effects of climate change with the least amount of resources to help our relatives. We are under attack from fossil fuel expansion and the threats of false solution projects that threaten our sovereignty. We are the first to be sacrificed and the last to be listened to. This must stop. Biden has the authority to declare a climate emergency and put processes in place that could save our lives and our communities. There is no more time to be had."

On July 27, a reconciliation deal between Senators Schumer and Manchin was announced with provisions that would require massive oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, reinstate an illegal 2021 Gulf lease sale, and mandate that millions more acres of public lands be offered for leasing before any new solar or wind energy projects could be built on public lands or waters. These leasing provisions lock in decades of additional fossil fuel pollution and continue a racist legacy of sacrificing environmental justice communities.

Declaring a climate emergency signals to the world that the President is ready to play hard ball on climate and unleash all his executive powers to make real climate progress. President Biden should not have wasted a year and a half negotiating with a coal baron. He has all the powers he needs right now to act boldly on climate.

Legally, a climate emergency declaration unlocks important emergency powers to rapidly shift off of fossil fuels:

-Ban crude oil exports - The US exports about 1/4 of the crude oil it produces. This production is largely taking place in the Permian Basin. Banning crude oil exports can cut greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount a year as closing 42 coal plants.

-Stop Foreign Fossil Fuel Investment - Halting the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. federal investment in fossil fuel projects abroad will prevent locking in decades of reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure and halt fossil fuel proliferation in other countries.

-Roll out Renewable Energy and E-Transportation Infrastructure - Direct Pentagon Funds toward the pieces that will ensure our climate security with renewable energy systems, climate-resilient technologies, and electric transportation.

Activists are also calling on the President to go beyond emergency powers and do everything in his non-emergency executive powers to beat climate chaos by ending oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, denying all new federal permits for fossil fuel infrastructure like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Formosa plastics plant, restricting gas exports to the extent allowed under the Natural Gas Act, and more.

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