UN chief urges rich nations to spend more on helping developing countries adapt to climate crisis

AOC and Sanders push Biden to declare climate crisis a national emergency: ‘Out of time and excuses’

A 1976 Act allows the president to activate special provisions and assemble resources

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent in New York
Friday 05 February 2021 14:10
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Progressive lawmakers are demanding that Joe Biden declare a national emergency on the climate crisis

Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, along with Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont say that the US is "out of time and excuses” on the issue.

They have introduced the National Climate Emergency Act which would direct the president to announce a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, and “mobilize every resource at the country’s disposal to halt, reverse, mitigate, and prepare for the consequences of this climate crisis”.

The 1976 Act allows the president to activate special provisions and assemble resources.

The trio of progressives teamed up on a similar resolution in 2019, despite it being a relatively futile effort under President Trump who dismissed the climate crisis.

In a statement, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said: “We've made a lot of progress since we introduced this resolution two years ago, but now we have to meet the moment. We are out of time and excuses. Our country is in crisis and, to address it, we will have to mobilize our social and economic resources on a massive scale."

Senator Sanders added: “What we need now is Congressional leadership to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and tell them that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of the planet. Climate change is a national emergency, and I am proud to be introducing this legislation with my House and Senate colleagues.”

The legislation would require that President Biden deliver a report to Congress within a year of the bill’s enactment, laying out the actions that the executive branch would take to combat the emergency.

The lawmakers suggest that this should include upgrades to public infrastructure, modernization of millions of buildings to cut pollution, investments in public health, protections for public lands and regenerative agriculture investments.

If the National Climate Emergency Act is signed into law, the US would join over 1,000 cities and 38 countries around the world that have declared the climate crisis as an emergency.

The legislation has garnered support from dozens of environmental groups including fossil fuel activists 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Earth, and the Sunrise Movement.

“This bill is a good sign that our leaders are finally understanding what young people and climate activists have been shouting from the rooftops for years – that the fires that burned our homes to rubble, the floods that took our family and friends with them, are a climate emergency, and bold action must be done now to save our humanity and our future," said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement.

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