Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) revealed today a congressional resolution to officially declare the climate crisis as a national emergency.
“Today we stand in solidarity with tens of millions of people from around the world in calling for a mass mobilization of our social and economic resources,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “It is time we began a swift transition away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable renewable energy economy. Climate change represents not only our greatest threat but one of our greatest opportunities. Working to solve the climate crisis will create tens of millions of union jobs, empower communities, and improve the quality of life for people across the globe.”
“Expressing the sense of Congress that this is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to half, reverse, and address its consequences and causes,” begins the resolution.
The full document details how are planet is responding to global warming, such as the 40% increased in concentrations of carbon dioxide since preindustrial times.
The lawmakers unveiled the resolution just one day after President Trump delivered an environmental speech that contained no mention of climate change.
“The 2018 National Climate Assessment found that climate change due to global warming has caused, and is expected to cause additional, substantial interference with and growing losses to infrastructure, property, industry, recreation, natural resources, agricultural systems, human health and safety, and quality of life in the United States.”
The resolution was co-sponsored by Senate by Sens. Merkley (D-Ore.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Booker (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Warren (D-Mass.), and Harris (D-Calif.), 19 members of the House, and 15 independent organizations.
“Today, as we face the global crisis of climate change, it is imperative that the United States lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” said Sanders. “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 resolution with my House and Senate colleagues.”
The resolution suggests moving to achieve net-zero emissions, overhauling the U.S. transportation system, and even bringing climate liability lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry.
The President spoke on the importance of “practical solutions” for climate change and said that the environment and economy go hand-in-hand.
“While we’re focused on practical solutions, more than 100 Democrats in Congress support the so-called Green New Deal,” the president said. “Their plan is estimated to cost our economy nearly $100 trillion. A number unthinkable. A number not affordable even in the best of times. If you go 150 years from now, and we’ve had great success, that’s not a number that’s even thought to be affordable. Kill millions of jobs, it’ll crush the dreams of the poorest Americans and disproportionately harm minority communities. I will not stand for it. We will defend the environment but we will also defend American sovereignty, American prosperity, and we will defend American jobs.”
Although more than 700 governments in 16 countries have declared climate emergencies, doing so is only symbolic as it does not propose any specific legislation. However, as The Guardian‘s Emily Holden stated in her report on the resolution, “Advocates say similar efforts in Canada and the United Kingdom have served as a leverage point, highlighting the hypocrisy between the government position that the situation is an emergency and individual decisions that would exacerbate the problem.”