Climate activists rally at White House to demand action

WASHINGTON – Environmental activists, distressed by the government’s slow pace of action on climate changegathered in front of the White House on Saturday afternoon, calling for President Biden and Congress to quickly pass a climate bill that has been stalled in the Senate since December.

The White House rally was one of dozens of “Fight For Our Future” rallies held around the country to push the government to cut pollution that is dangerously warming the planet. dangerous, limited to one week of events that coincide with Earth Day.

“We’re here because we keep getting hit back by hurricanes, and we have nothing to fix it,” said Willett Simpkins, 68, a retired nursing home maintenance manager from Wallace, NC. recoverable”. each year. It’s about time they stopped talking about it and did something about it.”

The event, which drew hundreds of people under the pale green trees of Lafayette Park, was led by Father Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, a nonpartisan group that tries to get young voters involved.

Many in the crowd work for environmental groups, but scattered among them are voters who want Biden to know that failing to enact climate legislation could cost him with their votes.

Mr. Biden, a promising newcomer urgent action on what he calls the existential threat of climate change, has seen his ambitious plans overtake the House but watered down and stuck in the Senate because of unanimous opposition from Republicans as well as Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginiaa powerful rotating slip in an equally divided chamber.

Soaring gas prices because of the war in Ukraine prompted Mr. Biden to take steps that upset climate activists. He issue a record amount of money oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and begged oil companies to step up drilling activity. To comply with an order from a federal judge, Mr. Biden said he would more public land for drillingdespite campaign promises to stop new oil and gas exploration.

Gracie Chaney, 27, a PhD candidate in physics at the University of Maryland, called the actions like betrayal. “I was quite disappointed,” she said. “There were a lot of promises he broke. It feels like we’re going back to the 19th century or something.”

The events come at a time when scientists say the door is rapidly closing for nations to avoid sending the planet into an irreversible future of deadly hurricanes, wildfires, floods and more floods, droughts, food shortages and mass migrations.

Mr. Biden has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, a goal in line with what scientists say the United States needs to avert such catastrophes.

But if Democrats, who have a majority in Congress, don’t enact major climate legislation within the next few months, many analysts say the chances of achieving that goal will close. Republicans are backed to win control of at least one house of Congress in this fall’s midterm elections, and their steadfast opposition to climate action could soon destroy the development. about the new law.

Scientists have increasingly declared that nations need to act now to avert a difficult future. One great scientific report published earlier this month concluded that countries must immediately and drastically pivot away from the fossil fuels that have underpinned major economies for more than a century.

The Earth has warmed by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since the Industrial Age largely due to human activity, namely the burning of oil, gas, and coal. Scientists say every fraction of warming will lead to more frequent droughts, more intense storms, more species extinctions – effects already felt in anywhere in the world. Once the Earth crosses the threshold of 1.5 degrees of warming (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), scientists say, the likelihood of devastating heat waves, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes will increase dramatically, scientists say. .

Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, reminded the crowd of the steps the Biden administration has taken to cut pollution. But she stressed the need to pass his stalled legislation, which would provide more than $500 billion in tax credits designed to accelerate the country’s transition to wind and solar energy. solar energy as well as electric cars.

“President Biden will use every lever, use every tool, and leverage every resource to tackle climate change,” she said. “But Congress must also act.”

Mr. Simpkins has followed Biden’s actions, including a crackdown on planet-warming methane leaking from oil and gas wells and a ban on hydrofluorocarbon, a greenhouse gas produced by coolants fridge.

“It’s the emissions thing, that’s good,” he said. “The Freon stuff and the air-conditioned stuff, it’s good. But they need more than that. The trees are being burned down every year, they will not be replanted. Any house that is infected will not return.”

Mr. Simpkins voted for Mr. Biden in 2020, but he said that if Mr. Biden does not introduce strong climate legislation, he will sit out the 2024 election. “I hate to say it, but I won’t. vote,” he said.

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