Climate Emergency Strike crosses Brooklyn Bridge.

Over 1,000 young voters joined the Climate Emergency Strike in New York City on Friday, April 19, calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and phase out fossil fuels.

(Photo: Lucy Baptiste/Fridays for Future NYC)

The Climate Youth Movement’s Earth Day Message to Biden

We call on the president to stop approving new fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency that takes meaningful action to end the era of fossil fuels and invest in environmental justice.

Last weekend, we flooded our streets and campuses with our voices and votes. Tens of thousands of young people along with the Sunrise Movement, Fridays for Future U.S., and Reclaim Earth Day, in more than 200 actions nationwide, are demanding bold action because billions of lives are under threat, and we need our leaders to act like it.

We call on President Joe Biden to stop approving new fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency that takes meaningful action to end the era of fossil fuels and invest in environmental justice. Bold climate action is long overdue, and we are running out of time. Every moment our president wastes, every new fossil fuel project he approves, magnifies the environmental and social disasters the world is already facing. The climate crisis exacerbates all other crises—it’s the most pressing of our time.

The U.S. is burning on the West Coast, flooding on the East Coast, and baking in the South. Yet oil and gas production has surged to record highs under Biden. We now produce more fossil fuels than any other country in the world. Just this month, Biden has approved dozens of new oil and gas projects that lock us into 30 more years of oil and gas, and will poison the air and water of communities living near the projects. From the petrochemical corridor “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana to neighborhood drilling in Los Angeles to flooded Miami, frontline communities are bearing the brunt of fossil fuel pollution and the climate crisis. Despite communities’ groundbreaking activism, fossil fuel companies and puppet politicians are doing everything in their power to keep us hooked on oil.

If Biden wants to win this November, he must deliver for young people.

But we’re not falling for it. We know that renewables are the cheapest source of electricity on the market and that fossil fuels must be phased out. When our institutions have been corrupted by oil influence, we need direct action from the highest level: a Climate Emergency Declaration. The time has passed for incremental action.

Last weekend, thousands of young people in three national days of action called on President Biden to use his executive powers to act decisively. On Friday, April 19, thousands of high school students walked out of their classes and onto the streets as a part of the Fridays For Future global day of action; over the weekend, Sunrise Movement activists held teach-ins at congressional offices across the country; and on April 22, college students at over 100 institutions rallied across campuses to Reclaim Earth Day. Across more than 200 different cities and campuses, thousands of students and young voters made their voices heard.

Reclaim Earth Day walkout at Princeton Hundreds of young people walked out of classes at their march declaring a climate emergency and calling for the university to cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry. (Photo: Sunrise Princeton University)

We’re turning up the pressure because it’s time that President Biden stop approving fossil fuel projects and take action to protect our communities and our futures. By declaring a climate emergency using the National Emergencies Act (NEA), Biden would unlock critical authorities to phase out fossil fuels and protect our communities from the climate crisis—including the ability to reinstate a crude oil export ban and stop investments in fossil fuel projects abroad. He could use the Public Health Services Act to ensure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare and safe housing after climate disasters strike for the people most impacted by the fossil fuel industry. He could create millions of good-paying green union jobs building resilient and distributed renewable energy across the country. He can and he must take these actions. Millions of lives are on the line.

From coast to coast, we took action to demand Biden change track; our generation is leading the way. In 2021, millions of young people signed a petition to stop Biden’s approval of ConocoPhillips’ devastating Willow pipeline. In September 2023, 75,000 people, youth, along with faith, frontline, and labor leaders, took to the streets and demanded an end to fossil fuels. Last October, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a union 1.72 million strong, passed a resolution demanding Biden declare a climate emergency, and this spring, hundreds of thousands of us in Michigan, Wisconsin, and beyond voted “Uncommitted” in our call for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza and an end to unconditional U.S. military aid to Israel.

Now, the weekend before Earth Day, we took action in the thousands from New York to Los Angeles, from college campuses to city centers, with one message: If Biden wants to win this November, he must deliver for young people.

Earth Day march in Kansas City. Over a hundred young voters joined a march in Kansas City over the weekend, calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and for climate justice. (Photo: Sunrise Kansas City)

When he ran as a climate president in 2020, Biden won the youth vote by 20 points. But, as president, Biden has thrown youth and frontline communities under the bus with his continued fossil fuel approvals. Now, polls show Biden neck and neck with former President Donald Trump for the youth vote. The majority of Americans want Biden to both do more on climate and the crisis in Gaza.

We understand the severity of this political moment. Biden is going up against Trump and an extreme right-wing party that has the opposite of a climate or human rights agenda and no respect for democracy. We are pushing Biden because millions of lives are on the line, because activism is exactly what a healthy democracy demands, and because we hope that by listening to us Biden can use his time left in office to restore faith in our political system and reinvigorate young people to vote for him in the historical numbers we need. In the 2024 election, 41 million members of Gen Z will be eligible to vote. Simply put, Biden will not win without young people.

Going into 2024, young people are calling for Biden to invest in future generations and recognize the need for immediate action to combat the intersecting crises of our time. He must prove to our generation that he is fighting for us.

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