Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer is joining with two powerful progressive lawmakers to push for an emergency declaration to address the ongoing global climate crisis.
The resolution, drafted by Blumenauer and co-sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is intended to focus attention on the quickening pace of climate change and spur action on a national and global scale.
“By declaring an emergency, Congress is acknowledging that we need all hands on deck to counter this catastrophe,” Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a letter to fellow lawmakers. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has already predicted that by 2030, the planet could warm by 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The United States must join more than 600 cities and four countries who have recognized the climate emergency for what it is.”
Blumenauer was inspired to draft the resolution after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the Southern border to secure funds to build a border wall.
“The national emergency is not the border,” Blumenauer said. “Its the climate.”
The resolution has a chance of passing through the House, where Democrats enjoy a majority. It would likely face opposition from Republicans in the Senate and the chances Trump would sign it, should it ever make it out of Congress, are slim. The resolution, if signed into law, would not grant the president any additional authority under the National Emergencies Act.
Still, backers of the declaration say time is running short to confront the growing threat from climate change and the resolution, even if symbolic, could help mobilize popular support for more substantial federal action. The vast majority of scientists agree that increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is heating the planet and that fossil fuel combustion is the primary driver.
A federal report on the potential impacts of climate change, released in 2018, found that extreme weather events were likely to increase in frequency, duration and intensity. In the Pacific Northwest, that means more wildfires, droughts and sea-level rise along the coast.
Climate-change crisis: Oregon faces wildfires, drought and deep economic losses
In Oregon, if you want to see what the future looks like, all you have to do is look a few years into the past.
“We know that the scientific consensus is there and the solutions are in front of us. This is a political crisis of inaction,” Ocasio-Cortez said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “We have less than 12 years, not to pass legislation, but to enact a global solution.”
Blumenauer planned to introduce the resolution on the floor of the house by Tuesday afternoon.
— Kale Williams
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