Large swathes of the planet are currently under the grips record-breaking heatwaves and destructive wildfires. U.S. President Joe Biden may consider declaring a national emergency this week. He is reportedly doing so because a senator with deep ties the fossil fuel industry continues his obstruction of much-needed renewable energy spending.
Biden’s plans for a possible emergency declaration, first reportedMonday, late Washington PostThe White House is under increasing pressure to take unilateral action on climate change, but its agenda remains blocked in the upper chamber. This hinders U.S. efforts in reducing planet-warming carbon emissions, as global temperatures soar.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a coal profiteerWho has received more money this election cycle from the oil and natural gas industry than any other member? reportedly toldLast week, Democratic leaders met in closed-door sessions to decide that they would not support any new green power spending. Manchin’s decision threw into serious doubt the majority party’s chances of approving key climate investments ahead of the November midterms.
Proponents argue that a formal climate emergency declaration would allow Biden to take a number of sweeping actions — without needing congressional approval — to curb fossil fuel production and accelerate the nation’s transition to renewable energy sources as the U.S. continues to fall behindon its emission targets.
In a report published earlier this year, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) noted that an emergency declaration would empower the president to “halt crude oil exports,” “stop oil and gas drilling in the outer continental shelf,” “restrict international trade and private investment in fossil fuels,” and “grow domestic manufacturing for clean energy and transportation,” among other potential actions.
“Biden needs to deploy every executive power, starting with banning crude oil exports,” Jean Su, director of CBD’s Energy Justice Program, wroteTwitter late Monday A Greenpeace analysisPublished in 2020, it was estimated that the revival of the banGlobal greenhouse gas emissions could be slashed by reducing U.S. crude oil exports by as much as 181 million tons of carbon-equivalent per annum
“He can put Manchin’s gaslighting behind us and show the world we have a climate president we can believe in,” Su added. “Critically, a climate emergency declaration would put wind under the sails of all agencies to use their maximum powers possible” to combat runaway warming.
But Saul Levin was a staffer of Rep. Cori Bush (D.Mo.), emphasized that it’s not enough for Biden to simply declare a climate emergency; he must “publicly commit to using its powers immediately.”
“Otherwise, we climate policy staff may have no choice but to put our bodies between Joe Manchin’s greed and the people we serve,” added Levin. “Stand with us — we must win.”
The heatwaves that’ve engulfed much of Europe, parts of the U.S., Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa in recent weeks have come as no surprise to climate scientists, who have been sounding the alarm for years about the dangers of allowing planetary warming to accelerate unabated.
Steven Pawson is the chief of the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. said last week that the record-high temperatures scalding Europe, Asia, and Africa are “another clear indicator that emissions of greenhouse gases by human activity are causing weather extremes that impact our living conditions.”
“Such extreme heat has direct impacts on human health, as well as having other consequences, including these fires that are occurring now in Europe and Africa, and which have been rampant over the past few years in North America,” Pawson added.
Since early July, Spain alone and Portugal have been reportedMore than 1,100 heat-related deaths. France is facing what experts call “heat-related deaths”. dubbed a “heat apocalypse,” is expected to release casualty figures later this month. The U.K. is meanwhile setTo witness Tuesday’s hottest day ever recorded
“The extreme heat we are experiencing… is one of the many frightening faces of climate change,” Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said Monday. “Climate breakdown is here, it is deadly serious, and it will get much worse unless we act urgently to end our reliance on oil and gas.”
The scorching heat is also felt in parts of the U.S. As the New York Times notes, “Dangerous levels of heat are forecast in the South, West, and Midwest on Tuesday,” and nearly 69 million people reside in areas “expected to have dangerous levels of heat.”