Congressional Action is a Significant Start; Declaration of a Climate Emergency Still Needed to Meet the Climate Crisis & Protect Black, Indigenous & Frontline Communities

Submitted by skarimi@greena… on

Green America welcomed the positive steps within the July 27, 2022 climate deal that is part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

Calling for $369 billion in climate and clean energy investments, the bill would put the U.S. on the path to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 40% by 2030, bringing us closer to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

Meaningful Congressional action on climate is long overdue and this legislation constitutes the largest U.S. investment in climate action to date.

How the Climate Deal Falls Short 

The deal also continues subsidies to the fossil fuel sector and supports the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure. It also promotes strategies such as carbon capture and storage which attempts to capture carbon on site but allows coal and other fossil facilities to continue to operate, including carbon capture from fossil fuel power plants. 

In exchange for Senator Manchin’s support, Democratic leadership promised expedited reviews of fossil fuel projects, and approval of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. This one pipeline alone could produce emission equal to 26 coal-fired power plants or 19 million passenger vehicles. 

This means that some of the progress made possible in the legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will actually be undercut by provisions that continue to advance the fossil fuel industry. 

Support for fossil fuels that continues to entrench them for decades to come cannot legitimately be included alongside strategies to reverse the climate crisis.

What about Nuclear Energy?

Green America also opposes nuclear power as a climate solution. 

While nuclear operates fossil-free, it is energy intensive to build (think of all that concrete). It also poses enormous safety threats to communities from uranium mining to accidents in uranium transport or in nuclear power plants. Nuclear waste hazards are not solved. It promotes the development of nuclear states and nuclear plants are targets in war (as is happening in Ukraine).  It takes too long to build to be the solution we need in the next ten years.  And we can go fossil-free with a focus on renewables without more nuclear plants. 

Impact on Communities and Human Health

Continuing to support fossil fuels and nuclear power also means that the communities that have—historically to the present day—been harmed the most by the fossil fuel and nuclear industries will continue to be exploited and to have their health and well-being poisoned and undermined. 

While the legislation includes $60 billion for environmental justice initiatives, they need greater support without fossil fuel trade-offs to be truly effective in addressing climate impacts and systemic racism. A true climate solution is one that puts climate justice front and center and insures that communities most harmed by climate pollution benefit most from climate solutions.

Bineshi Albert, Co-Executive Director of the Climate Justice Alliance said of the climate deal: “Legislation that supports measures to address the health of polluted communities on one the hand, while ramping up projects that increase pollution and unsafe practices on the lands of other frontline communities on the other, such as carbon capture and storage, is wrong. Hard fought measures for Environmental Justice that support our communities are now being positioned alongside things that harm us, essentially holding us hostage to the needs of the fossil fuel industry. This will only harm us in the future.”

While this climate deal is unprecedented and nearly didn’t happen at all, more is still needed to meet the magnitude of the crisis and to end the ongoing sacrifice of low income and communities of color to continued reliance on fossil fuels. 

Green America urges the Biden Administration to declare a climate emergency and to focus on climate solutions that will protect Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and all low income and people of color on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Those solutions are the ones that will best protect everyone.

For more information:

 Congressional Progressive Caucus Center

The Climate & Community Project, Inflation Reduction Act: The Good, The Bad & the Ugly

Top 10 Solutions to Reverse Climate Change

10 Reasons to Oppose Nuclear Energy

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