Thousands of climate activists march in NYC, calling on Biden to declare climate emergency

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Tens of thousands of protestors kicked off a march Sunday in New York City, advocating for an end to fossil fuels while calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency.

Hundreds of organizations, climate advocates, actors and political leaders attended the March to End Fossil Fuels ahead of New York’s Climate Week, which coincides with a special United Nations summit Wednesday focused on the climate crisis.

The collaboration behind the March to End Fossil Fuels said it is calling on Biden to stop all federal approvals for new fossil fuel projects, phase out fossil fuels on public lands and waters, while declaring a climate emergency.

“It’s unbelievable that Biden is sitting on the sidelines when he’s got more power than anyone on Earth to end deadly fossil fuels,” said Jean Su with the Center for Biological Diversity, who helped organize the march. “Cowering in a corner is not a credible climate plan from the world’s largest oil and gas producer.”

Organizers estimated around 75,000 individuals participated in Sunday’s march, including actors like Ethan Hawke, Kevin Bacon and Susan Sarandon and political leaders including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Youth protest group Fridays for Future said thousands of youth participated in the march, aiming their message directly at Biden.

“We are watching you approve pipelines, and we are watching as you delay declaring a climate emergency,” Noa Greene-Houvras of Fridays for Future NYC said in a statement.We are watching as the Weather Channel repeats the same terrifying message, that this year, this week, this day, is the hottest ever recorded. We are watching our futures disappear, because how can we be the next president or author or scientist on a dying planet?”

“We hold the power of the people, the power you need to win this election,” Emma Buretta, 17, of Brooklyn with Fridays for Future, told The Associated Press. “If you want to win in 2024, if you do not want the blood of my generation to be on your hands, end fossil fuels.”

The march comes days before United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will host a special Climate Ambition Summit in New York City Wednesday, with the criteria that attending countries present their plans for phasing out fossil fuels and committing to no new oil, gas and coal.

The White House said Biden and leaders of China, the United Kingdom, Russia or France — all major developers and users of fossil fuels — will not be attending the summit, according to the AP.

Last month, Biden said he has “in practice” declared a national climate emergency, though he has not actually announced such a declaration. A national emergency declaration would allow other powers related to climate change, including potentially using the Defense Production Act to provide loans to bolster climate-energy sources and prevent oil exports.

Climate activists have called for such a declaration to both enable these powers and bring the seriousness of the problem to the forefront.

The White House has pushed back on such criticism, touting Biden’s actions on climate change.

“President Biden has treated climate change as an emergency – the existential threat of our time – since day one,” a White House spokesperson wrote in a statement shared with The Hill. “That’s why he signed into law the most ambitious climate bill in history, conserved more land and water in his first year than any President since JFK, rejoined the Paris Agreement, attracted $240 billion in private sector investment in clean energy manufacturing, and used his emergency authorities to invoke the Defense Production Act to supercharge domestic clean energy manufacturing.”

The spokesperson told The Hill Biden “secured commitments from the G20” last week to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, a global deal where countries agree to limit the planet’s warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The White House also called out Republicans’ attempts to repeal portions of the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping piece of legislation long-touted by Biden for addressing the climate crisis.

Organizers of the March to End Fossil Fuels have thrown their support behind the summit, stating they met with U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Selwin Hart last week ahead of the climate-driven summit.

Updated at 7:42 pm.

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