USA: American president close to declaring a climate emergency

In a speech the American President Joe Biden delivered from the site of a former coal-fired power station in Somerset, Massachusetts, he said:

[14:50] “Congress has failed in its duty. Not a single Republican in Congress stepped up to support my Climate Plan. Not one. So let me be clear: Climate change is an emergency, and in the coming weeks I am going to use the power I have as president to turn these words into formal, official government actions through the appropriate proclamations, executive orders and regulatory power that a president possesses.”

In other words, it would appear as if the president is now preparing the ground for actually declaring a climate emergency in the United States.

He also said:

[02:55] “Our economy is at risk, so we have to act. Extreme weather disrupts supply chains, causes delays and shortages for consumers and businesses. Climate change is literally an existential threat for a nation and to the world. So my message today is this: since Congress is not acting as it should, (…) this is an emergency. An emergency. And I will look at it that way. I said last week and I say it again loud and clear: As president I will use my executive powers to combat the climate crisis – in the absence of congressional action. (…) In the coming days my administration will announce the executive actions we have developed to combat this emergency. We need to act!”

[01:20] “I come here today with a message: As president, I have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger. And that’s what climate change is about. It is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger. The health of our citizens and our communities is literally at stake. The United Nations’ leading international climate scientists called the latest climate report nothing less than, quote, “code red for humanity.” Let me say it again: “Code red for humanity.” It’s not a group of political official — elected officials. These are the scientists.”

[16:00] “If we don’t keep it under 1.5°C, we lose it all. We don’t get to turn it around. And the world is counting on us. This is the United States of America. When we put our hearts and minds to it, there is not a single thing beyond our capacity. I mean it. When we act together. And of all things we should be acting together on, it is climate.”

[18:33] “Folks, we have no excuse now. We know it. We have answers for it. We can make things better in terms of jobs, we can make things better in terms of the environment, we can make things better for families over all.”


In February 2022, Center for Biological Diversity wrote in their report ‘The climate president’s emergency powers – a legal guide to bold climate action from president Biden’ that an emergency declaration would empower Biden to take the following steps:

• Halt crude oil exports, which would cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 165 million tons per year — the equivalent of shuttering 42 coal-fired power plants.

• Direct Defense Department funds toward the construction of renewable energy systems, energy-efficient housing, cooling stations and wildfire barriers.

• Direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build clean energy projects in communities affected by a climate disaster, rather than rebuilding fossil fuel infrastructure that was damaged by the disaster.

• Expand use of the Defense Production Act to bolster electric transportation, including public buses, high-speed rail and passenger vehicles.


Related media coverage

The New York Times wrote on 19 July 2022:

“The climate emergency is not going to happen tomorrow but we still have it on the table,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday. “Everything is on the table. It’s just not going to be this week on that decision.”

Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, said Mr. Biden should invoke a national climate emergency as well as a suite of other moves like regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, formally establishing a dollar estimate of the climate damages caused by fossil fuel projects, and imposing a tax on imports from nations that lack aggressive climate policies.

“There’s a whole array of other regulations they could proceed with,” Mr. Whitehouse said.

Invoking a national emergency would unlock a number of tools: Mr. Biden could reinstate the crude oil export ban that was lifted in 2015, halt offshore oil and gas drilling and restrict both U.S. fossil fuel exports and the billions of dollars of U.S. investment in fossil fuel projects abroad. He could also direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund the construction of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, and marshal domestic private industries to manufacture more renewable energy and transportation technologies.

The president and executive branch already have the authority to take most of those actions, but experts said that the declaration of a climate emergency would streamline Mr. Biden’s ability to quickly enact all those policies at once.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, urged Mr. Biden to declare a national climate emergency just a week into the president’s term. Last year, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer introduced a bill that directed the president to declare a national climate emergency

The National Emergencies Act, enacted nearly 50 years ago, requires presidents to formally declare a national emergency in order to activate special emergency powers, and imposed certain procedural formalities when invoking such powers. The idea was to empower the president to respond quickly to urgent, often unforeseeable crises.

Every president since has declared at least one national emergency during his term of office and 41 are still in effect today, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. President Biden invoked the law when extending a national emergency regarding Covid-19 in February and when banning Russian oil imports in March.


→ The New York Times – 19 July 2022:
Trying to Salvage His Climate Agenda, Biden Weighs Remaining Options
“With his legislative plan for global warming in shreds, the president has come under pressure to use all other tools at his disposal.”

→ Washington Post – 18 July 2022:
Biden eyes climate emergency declaration as Democrats demand swift action
“White House officials are scrambling to advance the president’s environmental agenda after talks with Sen. Joe Manchin III stalled.”

→ The Guardian – 20 July 2022:
Biden under pressure to declare climate emergency after Manchin torpedoes bill
“President could bypass the political gridlock as nearly 20% population faces 100F and above temperatures.”


Director Joel Bach wrote in ITM.EARTH’s newsletter on 27 July 2022:

“Exciting news.

This week there is continued pressure from all sides, including from within his own administration, to get President Biden to declare a Climate Emergency, something he has the power to do under the National Emergencies Act.

It appears that pressure is working. Last week he tweeted: “My message today is loud and clear: Since Congress is not acting on the climate emergency, I will. And in the coming weeks my Administration will begin to announce executive actions to combat this emergency.”

But we can’t count on him to act. So let’s keep up the pressure and push him to use his executive powers to do even more.

That’s it for now. Please retweet as many of the tweets below as possible. Because alone you make a whisper, but together we are very, very loud.


Joel Bach, Director, ITM.EARTH”


From New York, the Climate Mobilization Project Team wrote in a newsletter on 25 July 2022:

Don’t miss out: RSVP and invite your community to a mass movement call on Tuesday July 26.

This week, Biden pledged to take a series of executive actions to tackle the climate crisis after climate negotiations in Congress were killed once again.

But after reportedly considering declaring a climate emergency, he has yet to follow through. You can read our analysis here of Biden’s inaction on climate justice.

From Biden’s first day in office, our movement partners at the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition have been calling for the President to take strong executive action to declare a climate emergency and stop approving fossil fuel leases, projects, and exports. With this latest Congressional setback, now is the moment to push hard for Biden to use his full executive authority. 

To that end, People vs Fossil Fuels is hosting a mass movement call on Tuesday, July 26 to bring people up to speed on our demands for executive action and why this is a critical moment to call for them – and take action together to ramp up pressure on Biden.

RSVP now to join us on this important call!

We are closer than ever before to a #ClimateEmergency declaration and ramping up executive actions to tackle the climate crisis. This is an ALL HANDS ON DECK moment for our coalition and the broader People vs Fossil Fuels movement. Register here for the movement call on Tuesday July 26th.

Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you next Tuesday!

Climate Mobilization Project & the People vs Fossil Fuels Organizing Team


P.S. We need your help spreading the word! You can download and share the event graphic here and share this tweet with your networks on social media.

This call is for organizations as well as individuals. Can you share this invitation with members of your local climate group?

The Climate Mobilization
228 Park Ave. S
PMB 87816
New York, NY 10003
United States

The Climate Mobilization Project Team also wrote in a newsletter on 23 July 2022:

“Climate activists across the United States rejoiced this week when the Washington Post reported that President Joe Biden was considering declaring a national climate emergency. After a disappointing outcome for federal climate investment proposals during budget negotiations in the Senate, and with deadly heat waves sweeping the U.S. and Europe, calls for President Biden to exercise his executive authority to take action on the climate emergency have grown harder and harder for the President to ignore.

But after a somewhat vague climate address, many are wondering if that is in fact what he intends to do. Though the President used a lot of language to indicate a national climate emergency declaration is still on the table, he stopped shy of what activists across the country have been pushing him to do for years: declaring climate change a national emergency.

Once again, it is clear that our collective future depends on us.

Graphic courtesy of Gina Lever


A national climate emergency declaration is an invaluable tool and we challenge President Biden to finally use it. But it isn’t our only pathway to a safe future. No matter what, we need to organize and build power in our own local communities to demand equitable policies that eliminate carbon emissions as quickly as possible — and ultimately win the society-wide Just Transition we need to ensure a safe climate future for all of us. In his address, Biden urged us to work together on climate and we will. With or without him, we are mobilizing for a better future. Join us!

Thank you for being part of the climate emergency movement at this critical moment. Donate today to help mobilize local climate action now!!

In Solidarity,
The Climate Mobilization Project Team

P.S. To read more about our take on a national declaration of climate emergency, check out our blog.

P.P.S. For more info on our local campaigns check out our website and please reach out if we can help support your local climate organizing efforts.


Climate Mobilization Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible to the extent of the law. To support our policy and lobbying work you can make a non-tax deductible donation to our 501(c4), The Climate Mobilization.


Inside the Movement wrote in a newsletter on 22 July 2022:

Hot enough yet? Tell the WH to declare a climate emergency

The entire climate movement is pushing for Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and immediately allocate funds toward a just and sustainable future. While the White House released some contingencies, they’re not close to the magnitude of solutions we need. You can tell Biden what needs to be done.

And we’ve included even more you can do: help activists defund the over-budget and destructive Mountain Valley Pipeline, stop a completely unnecessary oil development project in the pristine Bay Du Nord in Canada, and go after monopoly utilities who prey on consumers and are doing everything they can to slow the transition to renewables.

At the same time, some places are making strides toward clean energy. Washington D.C. just banned natural gas connections in new buildings, consumer demand for EVs has increased so significantly that materials are on backorder, and the American Federation of Teachers union announced it was divesting its retirement funds from fossil fuels.

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to educate yourself on climate and get involved in fighting against the status quo. But remember that doing what you can wherever you are — even just talking about it — sets an example for others and builds momentum for change. So take a few deep breaths, drink a glass of water, and share your thoughts with a friend. As long as we keep moving forward, we’re going to get there.”
~ Morgan @ ITM


“At some point in the next few years governments around the world will hit the panic button – the weather extremes will be too terrible to ignore any longer and laws will be passed to force the end of fossil fuels. It would be better if a decent start had been made when the global panic button is hit.”
~ Alan Kohler, editor-in-chief of Eureka Report and finance presenter on ABC News, in The New Daily on 21 July 2022


Related tweets on Twitter





“When Hitler and the Nazi regime threatened to take over the world, President Roosevelt united the country and led us into a struggle for universal decency. The time has come for that type of leadership once again. As the President of the most powerful and influential nation on earth, Biden has a responsibility to tell us and the world the truth and take real action. He now has a choice: he can either leave a legacy of honor, duty, honesty, and action so that future generations might say that he fought for their lives and families, or he can continue avoiding his responsibilities to the country and the planet.”
~ Declare Emergency, March 2022


→ Declare Emergency – 22 July 2022:
Declare Emergency Responds to President Biden’s Speech in Somerset MA
“Ordinary citizens supporting the Declare Emergency campaign are concerned about President Biden’s remarks about the climate emergency.”