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Climate Emergency EXPLAINED

Climate Emergency Explained

This is a climate emergency. It’s time politicians acted like it.

The climate crisis is at our doorstep. Our country is burning in the west, flooding in the east, and baking in the south. Everywhere we look, disasters fueled by climate change are uprooting families and claiming thousands of lives. 

When hurricanes strike, it’s Black, brown, and working class homes that are hit worst and are the last to get power back or be rebuilt. When temperatures soar, it’s farmworkers in the fields and construction workers who die of heat stroke. 

We don’t have a minute to lose. Scientists say we have just seven years to cut US emissions in half to stop catastrophic climate change. We need an all out mobilization of our government to create green union jobs and end the fossil fuel era.

The good news is because of some huge movement wins in the past few years, we have a shot at doing that. The Inflation Reduction Act was the biggest climate bill in US history. President Biden’s American Climate Corps, modeled after the Civilian Climate Corps Sunrise campaigned on, will create 20,000 green jobs in the first year building the Green New Deal.

But the bad news is that many politicians, including Joe Biden, who are talking the climate talk are also letting the fossil fuel industry run wild. Under Biden’s leadership, the United States is extracting more oil and gas than ever before (and more than any other country). And then, Republicans politicians like Trump aren’t even being coy about it — they’re not even hiding the fact that their party is functionally a death cult set on helping make their campaign donors more money at the expense of millions of lives.

New fossil fuel development threatens to undo the gains we’ve fought for. Biden has approved new oil and gas projects like Willow that sacrifice Indigenous communities so oil executives can take home a bigger paycheck. There are dozens more on the docket. Fracked gas companies are seeking federal approval of dozens of natural gas export facilities that would produce the equivalent of 675 coal fired power plants. As a result, the United States is on track to produce more fossil fuels than ever by 2030. 

That’s bullshit. This is why we’re launching our campaign to force President Biden to declare a climate emergency and use every tool at his disposal to mobilize the US government to save lives. 

There are dozens of actions Biden can take TODAY that don’t require Congress to do anything and would save countless lives. He needs to use the same emergency powers that President Roosevelt used during World War II, or that both Trump and Biden himself used in response to COVID, to ensure we are doing everything we can to confront the greatest crisis of our time.

For our survival, we must force him to act and do these three things: 

#1 End the Fossil Fuel Era. Biden must pick a side: our generation or fossil fuel billionaires. We’re demanding he halt new fossil fuel development, prosecute fossil fuel companies and other polluters for their role in creating the climate crisis and misleading the public, and ban crude oil and gas exports.

#2 Create green union jobs. Unleash the full power of the presidency to expand clean energy production and boost green, good-paying jobs that benefit the working class and people of color facing the worst of the climate crisis

#3 Prepare for climate disasters. Revamp disaster response policies and invest resources to make all of our homes, workplaces, and schools resilient to disasters. Overhaul workplace safety laws to protect workers from disasters like extreme heat, upgrade FEMA to reduce racial and economic disparities in assistance, and build new affordable housing when disaster strikes. Redirect military personnel and resources from fighting wars to prepare climate vulnerable communities for disaster and build renewable energy.

President Biden has a choice. Does he want to be remembered as a one term president who was afraid to stand up to fossil fuel interests? Does he want the explosion of oil and gas development he oversaw to undo the progress made by the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Climate Corps? Or, does he want to be remembered as the President who heeded the call of young people, of the working class, of people of color on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and finally closed out the fossil fuel era and set us on the path to a prosperous economy and a livable climate?

This campaign is about forcing Biden to pick a side. In the next year we have a plan to organize and take action so it’s impossible for Biden — or any President — to ignore us. The plan has three prongs:

  • Turn up the pressure on Joe Biden. Everywhere he and his campaign goes, we’ll be there to make sure he can’t go a day without thinking about the climate crisis. We’ll be asking questions, disrupting fundraisers, building support in our communities to make our message loud and clear. It won’t be easy, but we have forced his hand before with the American Climate Corps and the Inflation Reduction Act, and we can do it again if we put in the work.  We have one great power over Biden: he knows that young people are critical to him winning the 2024 election. Our job is to make it clear to him that if he wants to win the vote of millions of young people, of Black and brown people, of the working class, if he wants to drive up turnout and have volunteers on the ground, he’ll need to declare a climate emergency and do everything he can to confront the crisis.
  • Confront Republicans running for President and Congress about their lack of a plan to protect our communities from disaster. We’ll put their responses in front of millions of young swing voters and show them for what they are: a party bought and owned by the fossil fuel industry that doesn’t care if people suffer and die. 
  • Organize locally to transform every level of society. We will launch local campaigns in every corner of the country to pass local Green New Deal resolutions that lay out a plan for local changes and also call on the President to declare a climate emergency. We will grow our movement into a powerful force that can win a Green New Deal in every city and town, and ultimately, from the federal government.  

It won’t be easy. Some days, it’s hard to believe that we have the power to change things. But here’s what I know: power concedes nothing without a demand. We will win nothing we don’t organize for. What I have learned from my time at Sunrise is that when we organize our communities around a bold, moral vision of the future, we win. 

In 2017, almost no one knew about the Green New Deal. Now it’s a rallying cry for our generation. When establishment politicians said we were naive kids asking for things that were out of reach, we organized and shifted the ground under their feet and soon they were parroting our message. 

I believe we can win because I have seen us do it before. If you’re ready to join me, here’s how you can get involved:

  • If you’re part of a hub, get your municipality to pass a resolution that calls on Biden to declare a climate emergency and commits to implementing a Green New Deal locally. Sign up here!
    • Already running a campaign or want to try out a campaign action tactic? Hubs across the country are doing banner drops, click here to plan one.
  • If you are not yet in or near a hub, join our Climate Emergency Circles program to get your community onboard with our demands, organize an action targeting Biden in February, and start a hub in your school or community. Sign up here!
  • Follow Sunrise Movement on social media and read our emails to keep an eye out for ways to join in remotely: phonebanks to defend the squad in congress, opportunities to grow our membership, invitations to participate in mass mobilizations, etc.

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