Politics It's time to declare a national climate emergency
The Weekly Planet: An Outdated Idea Is Still Shaping Climate Policy
Biden’s team is split on how to think about climate change.The moderate Democratic president wanted the United States to tackle climate change, and he had pledged to get serious about it during the recent campaign. On the president’s desk sat a memorandum laying out two options.
This month, President Biden will convene 40 world leaders to discuss the urgency of climate action and strengthen global cooperation on key climate goals. But before the president takes the global stage at the Leaders Summit on Climate, there's something he should do at home: declare a national climate emergency here in the United States.
In recent years, we have seen the effects of the climate crisis, both in our own backyard and around the world. From wildfires raging across Oregon and the West, to hurricanes wreaking havoc in the southeast, and increasing average temperatures everywhere in between, the impacts have been devastating.
The US has a chance fix its broken climate risk disclosure system
If companies ignore their vulnerability to climate change, the global economy is at risk.Financial regulators in the US are grappling with that question now. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened a 90-day public comment period in March that will inform the first update to federal climate risk disclosure guidelines in a decade. Shareholder groups and asset managers like BlackRock (CEO Larry Fink wrote in February that “climate risk is investment risk”) are pressuring boardrooms to improve corporate transparency around climate risks.
The severity of the crisis necessitates bold action. And the scientists and experts have been clear: If we do not adequately address this climate emergency now, the impacts will only become more catastrophic.
Despite the other challenges facing our country, the Biden administration has done an admirable job of prioritizing climate action in the first months of his administration. After years of practiced ignorance from former President Trump and congressional Republicans, however, an even larger mobilization is needed.
That's why I've taken steps - alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) - to mandate a national climate emergency. By directing the president of the United States to declare a national climate emergency, our National Climate Emergency Act will ensure every resource is at the country's disposal to halt, reverse, mitigate and prepare for the consequences of this climate crisis.
Biden wants to convince the world America can be trusted on climate change
It’s going to be a tough sell.Senior administration officials spoke with reporters on a Wednesday call ahead of two days of remote meetings featuring world leaders like Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. While they didn’t confirm reports that the US hopes to cut emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, they did answer Vox’s question on why other nations should trust America to keep its climate promises — given the US government has swung wildly on climate policy depending on who the president is.
This could not be more important, as the climate crisis is connected to, and exacerbates, almost every other crisis we are currently dealing with. Of course, we cannot ignore that the current and lasting effects of climate change are disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.
Fighting the climate crisis means fighting racial injustices. Fighting the climate crisis means fighting public health injustices. And fighting the climate crisis means combatting economic injustices.
Declaring a national climate emergency is more than just a symbol of our commitment to this fight. It will literally unlock the tools needed to get the job done. This includes the ability to invest in large-scale mitigation and resiliency projects, such as public infrastructure to expand access to clean and affordable energy, and the opportunity to develop and transform the industrial base of the U.S. while creating high-skilled family-wage jobs.
The truth behind companies' 'net zero' climate commitments
Going green is in fashion — but are corporate claims of going green reliable?What do these corporate pronouncements mean? Imagine you want to use your tax refund to buy stock and you pick the oil industry giant BP because you learn the company has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. Or suppose you are a young professional deciding whether to accept a job offer from the consumer products giant Amazon, impressed by the company's claims that it is "committed to" sustainability.
As we look ahead to this month's summit, I'm thrilled that the new administration wants the United States to once again lead the global fight against climate change. But right now, other countries are taking greater steps than we are.
In fact, 38 individual countries have already declared a climate emergency. Many of the leaders invited to Biden's upcoming climate summit represent those countries, including President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea.
If we are going to encourage stronger climate action across the globe, it's important that we also take every possible step to combat the climate crisis here at home. That includes a national climate emergency declaration.
After four years of Trump's environmental recklessness, it's a relief to see Biden's real commitment to a whole-of-government response to the climate crisis. His American Jobs Plan centers climate action in our infrastructure conversation. It also includes some of my environmental legislative priorities, such as the elimination of tax preferences for fossil fuels that will help spur investments in clean energy technologies and a reinstatement of the Superfund tax that will finally shift the cleanup responsibility at toxic and hazardous waste sites back to polluters.
Our National Climate Emergency Act, which mandates the declaration of a climate emergency, is in line with all of this. Not only will it lay the necessary framework for countless other actions we will take, but it will put us in line with the very allies we're hoping to motivate and encourage in the fight against the climate crisis.
Before Biden takes the global stage, let's take a stand at home. The time is now to declare a national climate emergency.
Blumenauer, a Democrat, represents Oregon's 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the author and primary sponsor of the National Climate Emergency Act.
Climate change: Biden aims to cement US credibility on climate and galvanize world leaders at virtual summit .
President Joe Biden's ability to galvanize global momentum faces its first major test this week when he convenes 40 of his foreign counterparts for talks on combating the climate crisis. © MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden speaks on climate change, creating jobs, and restoring scientific integrity before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 27, 2021.