US environmental and climate-justice groups at the United Nations climate change conference in Madrid called on the next US president today to declare a national climate emergency. The plan, supported by hundreds of US groups, urges the next administration to take 10 executive actions in its first 10 days in office to confront the climate crisis.
The groups’ action plan calls for the use of existing executive powers to take bold, foundational steps on climate. The steps include immediately rejoining the Paris Agreement and revising US commitments under the accord to make meaningful emissions reductions and finance pledges. These changes would help the United States do its fair share as the world’s largest cumulative historical emitter of greenhouse gases.
The 10 steps would not require congressional action.
“America is the number one historical contributor to the climate emergency that’s burning California, flooding the Southeast, and wreaking havoc on the rest of the world,” said Jean Su, energy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The next president must repay this extraordinary climate debt by rapidly moving America to 100% clean energy, ending fossil fuel extraction and financing the decarbonization of the Global South with justice and equity.”
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“The climate crisis can’t be solved by one country alone. The next administration must drastically ramp up climate action in the U.S., and it must also drastically increase our support for climate action in poorer countries,” said Brandon Wu, policy and campaigns director of ActionAid USA. “The climate emergency is global, and the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world have the fewest resources to cope with its impacts. This set of executive actions would put the U.S. on the right track toward doing its fair share of climate action. We do need Congress to act in order to provide the level of financial and technological support that developing countries truly need — but with these executive actions, the next president has a huge set of tools in their toolbox to jumpstart proactive, justice-based solutions.”
The plan focuses on unlocking existing executive authorities to start a wholesale transition to a regenerative and equitable economy for the country.
“The climate crisis cannot be limited to one of fossil fuel emissions and infrastructure,” explained Anthony Rogers-Wright, policy coordinator for Climate Justice Alliance. “Frontline communities, already being hit first and worst by this crisis, have always understood that the climate crisis is a crisis of justice, and its root causes are white supremacy, patriarchy, and colonization. The next President cannot stand by, wait for Congress to act and preside over a perpetual interregnum — we have no more time for that. This set of executive actions puts the fossil fuel and other iniquitous industries that treat our communities like sacrifice zones on notice while offering a suite of actions the next president can promulgate on day one to address systemic and institutionalized injustices. At the same time, we’re also putting the next Congress on notice to get serious about dismantling this crisis, or the people will circumvent you with all available means.”
“The first 100 days in office will be a critical test for our next president. This 10-point plan contains desperately needed actions that can be taken regardless of the situation in Congress, and taking it seriously reflects a real commitment to addressing the climate emergency that is already killing communities on a daily basis,” said Collin Rees, senior campaigner at Oil Change U.S.
“Ending handouts to Big Oil, Gas, and Coal, winding down fossil fuel extraction, investing in a truly just transition for workers and communities, and paving the way for a 100% renewable energy economy are no-brainers. The future of the planet is on the line, and we need a president willing to stand up to big polluters and do what needs to be done.”
“The United States government has long acted to advance the interests of corporations over people, and under Trump the government has lowered the bar even further. The U.S. continues to act at the behest of big polluters like the fossil fuel industry by ignoring science, blocking climate policy, and putting big polluter profit over the needs and demands of people,” said Sriram Madhusoodanan, climate campaign director of Corporate Accountability. “The next administration must start a new chapter in U.S. history, kick polluters out of climate policymaking, make them pay for the damage they’ve knowingly caused, and take every action possible to advance urgently needed, internationally just climate action.”
“On day one, we expect the next president of the United States to lead with the urgency required to mitigate the climate crisis. These ten executive actions are the essential building blocks for the rapid and transformational change we need in order to address the catastrophic impacts already being experienced by present generations and worsening each year that world leaders play politics with peoples’ lives,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America director of 350.org. “There can be no more compromise on how to address the climate crisis; we must phase out coal, oil, and gas immediately, make polluters pay for the necessary care and repair to our climate, and invest in a just transition that creates millions of jobs and prioritizes frontline communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of colour. Our demands are clear, and we expect the next president to step up to address the crisis of our time.”
“The next president will enter office with the U.S. far behind on climate policy, with oil and gas extraction recklessly expanding, and atmospheric methane pollution spiking. But it will also be a time of unprecedented momentum to take bold and necessary climate action thanks to people-driven movements fighting for change everywhere,” said Lauren Pagel, policy director at Earthworks. “Executive action alone is not enough to make a just transition away from fossil fuels, but it is essential to bolster the progress from climate leadership happening now in state capitals and communities across the country.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
ActionAid is an international network building a just, equitable, and sustainable world in solidarity with communities on the frontlines of poverty and injustice.
The Climate Justice Alliance formed in 2013 to create a new center of gravity in the climate movement by uniting frontline communities and organizations into a formidable force.
Oil Change U.S. is dedicated to supporting real climate leadership, exposing the true costs of fossil fuels, and building a just, equitable, and renewable energy future in the United States.
Corporate Accountability is a 40-year-old membership organization that stops transnational corporations from undermining public health, human rights, democracy, and the environment.
350.org is an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.
Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.