On behalf of their millions of members and supporters, 626 environmental organizations on Thursday demanded that U.S. policymakers “pursue visionary and affirmative legislative action” such as a Green New Deal to combat the “urgent threat” of the global climate crisis.
“Americans want a livable future for their children, and that requires keeping fossil fuels in the ground while greening the economy on a wartime footing.”
—Bill Snape, CBD
“As the world teeters on the brink of climate catastrophe, we’re calling on Congress to take large-scale action,” said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which signed the letter (pdf) to lawmakers. “Americans want a livable future for their children, and that requires keeping fossil fuels in the ground while greening the economy on a wartime footing.”
Angela Adrar of Climate Justice Alliance, another signatory, emphasized that “such a new, green economy needs to be guided by the leadership and knowledge of those most burdened by pollution, poverty, and other forms of institutional violence waged by the corporations causing this global ecological crisis.”
To achieve a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 or sooner, according to the letter, federal lawmakers must:
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- Halt all fossil fuel leasing, phase out all fossil fuel extraction, and end fossil fuel and other dirty energy subsidies;
- Transition power generation to 100 percent renewable energy;
- Expand public transportation and phase out fossil fuel vehicles;
- Harness the full power of the Clean Air Act;
- Ensure a just transition led by impacted communities and workers; and
- Uphold Indigenous rights.
“The disproportionate impacts of climate change and dirty energy development in the traditional territories and lands of American Indian and Alaska Natives must be taken into account, to ensure the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples are fully recognized in the just transition to a new green economy,” asserted Tom BK Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN).
“The disproportionate impacts of climate change and dirty energy development in the traditional territories and lands of American Indian and Alaska Natives must be taken into account.”
—Tom BK Goldtooth, IEN
Specifically, the letter pushes lawmakers to abide by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) along with other treaties and international law regarding any proposed policies or projects that would impact “lands, territories, and/or natural resources, cultural properties and heritage, and other interests” of native communities.
Additionally, the groups “vigorously oppose” any efforts to slash existing environmental and public health protections, prevent dirty energy polluters from liability, or promote “corporate schemes that place profits over community burdens and benefits.” Their letter further charges that “fossil fuel companies should pay their fair share for damages caused by climate change, rather than shifting those costs to taxpayers.”
Pointing to recent warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the necessity of rapid and aggressive climate action, it also notes the growing popularity of a Green New Deal—backed by the Sunrise Movement and other organizations as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and several other Democratic lawmakers—that would couple bold climate policies with efforts to create a more just economy.
As Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter concluded, “The excitement around the Green New Deal should energize Congress to take bold, transformative action on climate change.”
“At precisely the time that we need our energy policy to swiftly move us into a managed decline of fossil fuel production, the Trump administration is working with the fossil fuel industry to tear down policies and dangerously expand our fossil fuel extraction.”
—David Turnbull, Oil Change USA
Friends of the Earth’s Nicole Ghio added: “We cannot stop climate change and rising inequality with the half-solutions of the past. We need action on climate that ends our dependence on dirty energy, puts power in the hands of communities and provides good jobs. If candidates and elected officials say they are committed to climate solutions, this is the litmus test.”
Despite growing momentum for a Green New Deal and other initiatives, as David Turnbull of Oil Change USA pointed out, “at precisely the time that we need our energy policy to swiftly move us into a managed decline of fossil fuel production, the Trump administration is working with the fossil fuel industry to tear down policies and dangerously expand our fossil fuel extraction.”
As President Donald Trump and his appointees work to dismantle various climate and environmental regulations, these hundreds of groups want members of Congress to fight back and work to curb the global crisis. Organizations that signed on to the letter include Greenpeace, Amazon Watch, CODEPINK, Credo Action, Indivisible, the Organic Consumers Association, People’s Action, Public Citizen, and several chapters of 350.org.
Read the full letter: