Climate leadership starts at home. To regain credibility in the eyes of the world, President Biden must fulfill his promises to act on climate and environmental justice by stopping fossil fuel projects and declaring a climate emergency. The commitments that Biden made on Earth Day still fall short of the United States’s fair share of global climate action, and we will not settle for a middle of the road approach.
As we cross the 100-day mark of Biden’s presidency, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition — hundreds of groups representing millions of people across the country fighting for climate, racial, and economic justice — are coming together to demand the president stop the bad, build the good, and repair the harm caused by fossil fuel pollution.
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On April 13, 2021, Greenpeace USA released a report with the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy and the Movement for Black Lives examining how the fossil fuel economy disproportionately pollutes Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities.
Stop the Money Pipeline released a set of demands on the Biden Administration in light of the upcoming COP26 Glasgow Climate Talks. The demands call for requiring that financial institutions phase out fossil fuel and deforestation financing; ending all public money for these industries; investing in Black, Brown, and Indigenouns communities, and ensuring all corporations respect Tribal Nations’ treaty and sovereignty rights.
Swift executive actions to end fossil fuel extraction and advance a clean and just energy transition are central premises in the progressive Climate President action plan and model executive order, authored by the Center for Biological Diversity and supported by nearly 750 climate and environmental justice groups.
Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director Janet Redman said: “We expect more from a president who has repeatedly listed climate change as one of his top priorities. We cannot continue to burn fossil fuels and limit global warming at the same time, and our leaders should not be fooled by unproven solutions like carbon capture and offsets promoted by the oil and gas industry. Burning fossil fuels is the leading source of carbon emissions, and air pollution from fossil fuels is a public health crisis. There is no offset for that. To Build Back Better, Joe Biden must Build Back Fossil Free.”
Food & Water Watch Policy Director Mitch Jones said: “While these White House goals are being lauded as aggressive, they are inadequate. As the world’s historical largest emitter of climate pollution, we have a duty to do much more, and to act with greater urgency. These goals — based on comparisons to exceptionally high 2005 emission levels — will be meaningless without policies that explicitly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Biden can make real headway on that front by fulfilling his campaign pledge to end fossil fuel extraction on public lands. He must also halt all new fossil fuel projects, which are polluting frontline communities and driving up emissions, and should join the push to ban fracking everywhere. It is also vital that Democrats in Congress zero out fossil fuel subsidies in any infrastructure and climate packages — including the giveaways for industry-friendly carbon capture schemes.”
Oxfam America President and CEO Abby Maxman said: “President Biden’s new climate target demonstrates that he and his administration are serious about tackling the climate crisis – but the hard work is just beginning. While this new commitment is a positive step in the right direction, more action is urgently needed to avert dangerous climate change impacts that are already disproportionately harming those who are most vulnerable, especially women and marginalized communities. As the world’s richest country and largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, the US owes it to the world’s most vulnerable to increase its emissions reductions target in order to prevent additional climate change impacts. Critically, US emissions reduction must include strong US action to phase out fossil fuels, including by ending fossil fuel subsidies, in support of a just transition.”
350.org U.S. Policy Director Natalie Mebane said: “On Day 1 in office, Biden cancelled Keystone XL. Now he must follow-through on his promises and do the same with Line 3, the Dakota Access pipeline, and all new fossil fuel projects. A 50% emissions reduction falls short of the United States’ fair share, and should be seen as the floor, not the ceiling. Ambitious climate action requires keeping all fossil fuels in the ground. Biden must show the world that the U.S. is serious about tackling the climate crisis at scale, centering communities most impacted, and creating millions of good, green jobs in the process.”
Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice Program Director Jean Su said: “A pledge to cut emissions 50%-52% by 2030 simply isn’t big enough to meet the massive scale of the climate emergency. Solving the climate crisis requires applying both science and equity. The U.S. is the largest historic polluter and one of the wealthiest nations, and it must do its fair share and cut domestic emissions by at least 70% by 2030. Combating the climate emergency at home also requires transforming our economy by moving immediately to end the fossil fuel era and create a renewable and anti-racist energy system that advances justice first.”
“It is not enough that President Biden build back better. Justice requires we build back fossil free,” said Su. “The global response to climate change requires a transformational shift in how our economy and energy systems work. But President Biden’s lackluster plans continue to embrace the false solutions of carbon capture and storage and other market measures that landed us in this emergency to begin with. We need to reject that broken paradigm and instead build a new climate future in a way that combats the country’s inequalities, racism and ecocide.”
Global Witness Communications and Campaigns Officer Julieta Biegner said: “We have heard big promises from world leaders about the urgency of tackling the climate emergency, but almost completely absent from the conversation has been the major polluting force behind climate breakdown: the fossil fuel industry. The world can’t solve the climate crisis if leaders are unwilling to name the main culprit, let alone have the courage to take on these powerful industry interests. We must end the era of fossil fuels. This cannot be accomplished by vague commitments to net-zero emission strategies. For the US to truly be a climate leader, President Biden must tackle how the production, export, and use of polluting fossil fuels harms our communities and wrecks our planet. A president who has included climate justice as a central tenet of his plan to build back better cannot ignore the devastation that the fossil fuel industry has wrought on our communities and planet. We must Build Back Fossil Free.”
Indigenous Environmental Network’s Executive Director Tom BK Goldtooth said: “We do not have time to entertain the false solutions to the climate crisis politicians are proposing. The measures put forth by the Biden administration are not anywhere close to the relief needed for our Mother Earth to heal. We all depend on the sky, the water and the land for survival. We have waited too long to address our carbon emissions and dependency on dirty fossil fuels. We must cut emissions at the source. Globally, Indigenous peoples are depending on immediate action. The only way to build back better is to build back fossil free.”
Action Center on Race and the Economy Campaign Director Erika Thi Patterson said: “For generations, fossil fuel corporations have been permitted to pollute Black, Brown and Indigenous communities for profit. The same communities are also being hit first and worst by the climate crisis that this industry has caused. We can’t afford to keep taking more of the half measures and false solutions that the Biden administration is proposing. If he’s going to “Build Back Better,” President Biden needs to Build Back Fossil Free! That means ending pipeline construction, preventing all new fossil fuels infrastructure, and holding polluters (and their financiers) accountable to repairing the harm they have inflicted on BIPOC communities.”
GreenFaith’s Senior Ambassador and Muslim Climate Leader, Nana Firman said, “Killing the planet is against all of our religions. That’s why we’re telling President Biden and world leaders that there is no moral justification whatsoever for new fossil fuel infrastructure or deforestation. The administration must say no to Line 3, Dakota Access and all other fossil fuel projects, and yes to a just recovery that creates millions of climate jobs. The moral choice is clear. The time to act is now.”
Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard Press Coordinator Connor Chung said: Thanks in no small part to the work of youth climate activists, those in power are beginning to recognize the urgency of meaningful climate action. President Biden’s announcements, of course, are only a first step down the road to climate justice. Activists will be watching to see how seriously the administration takes these commitments, when it comes to decisions on Line 3 and other infrastructure incompatible with meaningful climate action. Nevertheless, President Biden’s commitments should be a wake up call to the fossil fuel industry and its institutional and financial enablers. We will build back fossil free — our futures demand nothing less.