Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have publicly stated that they would declare climate change a national emergency. Sanders in fact likened the climate change crisis in the US right now to the Pearl Harbor attack. He is calling on the same response and mobilization that happened after Pearl Harbor to address climate change. The senator from Vermont unveiled a resolution alongside Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer that could see a national emergency on climate change declared in the US in an effort to mobilize the required resources to deal with it.
Sanders noted during a call with reporters that there’s a real possibility to address climate change right now. In fact, many practical proposals have already been unveiled. However, due to a lack of “political will”, it has become increasingly difficult to get the job done. The Democratic presidential hopeful also called out president Donald Trump who has played down scientific reports on the possible effects of climate change.
At one time, Trump even called climate change a “hoax invented by the Chinese.” The president also infamously withdrew the US from the Paris Climate accord. This was perhaps the clearest sign that the current administration was never going to prioritize climate action. As a matter of fact, the Trump White House has been busy rolling back a number of Obama era climate change regulations.
Sanders told reporters that policymakers know exactly what needs to be done to address the issue. He’s calling on massive investments on sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and in the transformation of the US transportation systems. The resolution wants the US to join 16 other countries and local authorities including New York City in declaring a climate emergency. The White House is yet to respond to this latest push by Democrats but it’s very likely that it will be met with stern opposition.
Congresswoman Cortez on her part blamed “political inaction” for the current climate crisis. She called on policymakers in Washington to treat the situation with the urgency that it actually deserves adding that declaring a climate emergency would be the first step in dealing with the situation on a long term basis. Sanders also noted that acting on climate change is a “moral imperative.” He accused the “greedy” fossil fuels industry and the “ignorance” of Donald Trump of stonewalling any serious climate action but he’s hopeful that things may start changing soon.
But the resolution by Sanders and Cortez is non-binding. It’s not going to progress into law so it’s pretty much something symbolic designed to raise awareness on the urgency of climate change. The resolution has also been endorsed by 15 independent organizations including Greenpeace USA. It has also been co-sponsored by other Democrats running for president including Senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand. The resolution comes just 24 hours after Trump delivered an environmental speech that failed to mention climate change. The speech was criticized by many activists but it was seen by pundits as an indication of where the administration stands regarding climate action.