Since President Biden took office in the White House, climate activists have urged him to proclaim an official, nationwide climate emergency, and take serious action to protect our planet. And suddenly, rumors are spreading that Biden may declare a climate emergency this week. That being said, what is a climate emergency?
Here’s what we know so far about Biden's plans, and what declaring a climate emergency would actually mean.
Will Biden declare a climate emergency?
On the morning of Tuesday, July 19, 2022, multiple reports emerged that President Biden was considering announcing a nationwide climate emergency this week.
For instance, The Washington Post reported that three anonymous people “familiar with the matter” stated that Biden was thinking about declaring a climate emergency sometime this week, while The Hill reported that two anonymous sources said that Biden was planning to declare a climate emergency in the form of an executive order on Wednesday.
Additionally on Tuesday, the White House shared that Biden will make a speech about climate action on Wednesday, in the Massachusetts town of Somerset. This seemed to corroborate the rumors that Biden would issue a climate emergency on Wednesday.
However, later in the day on Tuesday, more reports broke out that Biden would not be declaring a climate emergency this week.
AP News reported that Biden will simply use the speech to talk about his climate efforts, but that he will not declare a climate emergency, according to an anonymous source near to the situation.
Also on Tuesday, an anonymous White House told Reuters in a statement: "We are considering all options and no decision has been made," regarding what Biden will announce in Somerset.
With all sources on this matter being anonymous as of now, it’s too soon to be certain what Biden will announce in Massachusetts on Wednesday.
Climate activists have been asking Biden to issue a climate emergency.
It’s safe to say that climate activists will be crossing their fingers that Biden does issue a climate emergency on Wednesday, as they have asked him to do so on many occasions in the past.
For instance, in October 2021, Indigenous activists traveled to Washington, D.C. from all over the nation, and spent a week demanding that Biden declare a federal climate emergency and put an end to fossil fuel extraction, as The Independent reported.
And in November 2021, a group of activists from the Black-led and Indigenous-led group Build Back Fossil Free traveled to Glasgow, Scotland during the COP26 climate change conference, where they made the same demands of the president, as per The Hill.
And on Tuesday, a number of climate organizations, other groups, and politicians took to Twitter to demand POTUS declare a climate emergency, including Sunrise Movement, the Working Families Party, and Sen. Jeff Merkley.
What is a climate emergency? And what does declaring a climate emergency mean?
According to Bloomberg, if Biden issues an official climate emergency, it would permit the president to “marshal sweeping powers against global warming,” such as swiftly reducing fossil fuel extraction, and accelerating clean energy projects.
The Working Families Party also explained that if the president does not declare a climate emergency, the U.S. "has zero chance of hitting its climate goals to protect our planet from climate change."
Basically, Biden declaring a climate emergency would open the door for Biden to take actual, meaningful climate action, giving the country a fighting change at mitigating the climate crisis.
Last week, reports broke that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia would not support a Democratic economic package’s climate or tax legislation, which could seriously get in the way of these provisions becoming law, as reported by CNN.
In response, Biden said that he was prepared to overstep the Senate if need be.
“Action on climate change and clean energy remains more urgent than ever,” Biden stated on Friday, as per The Guardian. “So let me be clear: if the Senate will not move to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, I will take strong executive action to meet this moment.”
Whether or not the Senate does pass this legislation, President Biden has the power to declare a climate emergency and accelerate climate action — so hopefully he exercises that power soon.