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‘The Clock Is Ticking’: 300,000+ Tell Biden to Act Boldly Ahead of Climate Summit


NBC News

As the world prepares to observe Earth Day and U.S. President Joe Biden gets set to host heads of state and government at the Leaders Summit on Climate Thursday, campaigners traveled from New York City to Washington, D.C. to demand Biden #BuildBackFossilFree by stopping all future fossil fuel expansion. 

“We are fighting for our survival. President Biden must fulfill his promise to tackle climate change and environmental racism.”
—Sharon Lavigne,
RISE St. James 

Climate and environmental justice activists journeyed from Union Square in Manhattan to the White House in the nation’s capital with a Climate Clock showing the time remaining for policymakers to reduce emissions before the effects of the climate crisis become irreversible, along with a petition led by 350.org and signed by more than 300,000 people demanding that Biden and other world leaders halt all new fossil fuel projects.

“I traveled from Cancer Alley to Washington, D.C. because our community is being poisoned by oil, gas, and petrochemical industries,” said Sharon Lavigne, founder and director of RISE St. James in St. James Parish, Louisiana.

“We are fighting for our survival,” Lavigne added. “President Biden must fulfill his promise to tackle climate change and environmental racism by revoking permits for Formosa Plastics’ proposed petrochemical complex in St. James, and placing a moratorium on all new and expanding petrochemical plants.”

Natalie Mebane, policy director at 350.org, noted in a statement that “on day one in office, Biden cancelled Keystone XL,” TC Energy’s tar sands oil pipeline. “Now he must do the same with Line 3, the Dakota Access pipeline, and all new fossil fuel projects.”

“There can be no meaningful climate action if we don’t keep all fossil fuels in the ground,” asserted Mebane. “By doing so, Biden will show the world that the U.S. is serious about facing the climate crisis at scale and centering the communities most impacted.”

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Silas Neeland of the White Earth Nation said in a statement that “the Biden climate summit is a big opportunity for the administration to end all fossil fuel projects that threaten our sacred lands, Manoomin (wild rice), treaties, and waters.”

“There is no such thing as safe fossil fuel pipelines—all pipelines leak—and there is no time left to delay on bold climate action to protect my community and communities around the U.S.,” added Neeland. 

In a statement, 350.org called on world leaders to “commit to bold, transformative climate ambition ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this November,” a reference to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“Biden and world governments must drastically increase emission reduction targets to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” the group added. “To do that, they must keep fossil fuels in the ground, including by stopping all new fossil fuel projects.”

After rejoining the Paris climate agreement earlier this year, Biden is now reportedly planning to commit the United States to a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by the end of the 2020s. 

However, climate campaigners quickly countered that such a target isn’t nearly ambitious enough to successfully address the climate emergency. 

“A pledge to cut emissions 50% by 2030 simply isn’t big enough to meet the massive scale of the climate emergency,” said Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.

“Solving the climate crisis requires applying both science and equity,” added Su. “On both counts, the U.S.—the largest historic polluter and one of the wealthiest nations—must do its fair share and cut domestic emissions by at least 70% by 2030.”

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