NY Advocates Demand President Biden Commit to Fossil Fuel Phaseout In First State of the Union

New York groups from the Build Back Fossil Free Coalition rallied in Albany, demanding President Biden declare a climate emergency, stop approving fossil fuel projects and more


Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

This morning, hours before President Biden gives his first State of the Union address, New York advocates from the nationwide Build Back Fossil Free Coalition rallied in Albany to demand bolder climate leadership from President Biden. After two years of broken climate promises, advocates in New York and across the country are pressuring President Biden in advance of his first State of the Union address to quickly deliver on his campaign promises by declaring a climate emergency and stopping the federal approval of new fossil fuel projects.

Advocates called on President Biden to tackle the climate crisis with the urgency it demands, meaning a stop to new oil and gas project approvals, the declaration of a climate emergency, and the use of executive authority to move the nation off fossil fuels (see ClimatePresident.org). Last week, over 1,100 climate, Indigenous, social justice, and progressive groups with members in every state, including more than 100 New York groups, issued a letter to President Biden laying out these demands.

Today’s event comes the day after the IPCC released a new report warning that the dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“President Biden is failing our climate, communities and future generations on climate. With a simple stroke of the pen, he could end our reliance on fossil fuels, declare a climate emergency and stop new oil and gas project approvals. So far, he has abdicated that executive authority in favor of failing Congressional politicking. But climate can’t wait — Biden must commit to building back fossil free in his State of the Union address tonight.”

“With Congress immobilized by partisan gridlock, it has been clear from day one of the Biden administration that Executive Action by the President was the most realistic path to enable our country to respond to the looming climate collapse which threatens the future of humanity,” said Mark Dunlea, coordinator of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350.org affiliate from the Capital District. “Biden’s first term has some promising rhetoric but actual climate action has fallen woefully short of what is needed. More than a year ago, climate groups produced ClimatePresident.org laying out dozens of Executive Orders that Biden should issue to stem climate warning, starting with halting the burning of fossil fuels. His first State of the Union gives him a wonderful opportunity to reboot his effort to become the climate champion that America and the world desperately needs.”

“GreenFaith is here today because the earth is a sacred gift and fossil fuels are absolutely destroying it,” said Michael Richardson, co-founder, Rivers & Mountains GreenFaith Circle. “I stand in solidarity with the younger people, people of color, indigenous peoples, and all those afflicted with poverty, violence, and other unbearable conditions — all of whom will disproportionately be harmed in this unfolding climate catastrophe. We have to stop the harm. It is indisputable that the primary cause for climate disruption is economic growth dependent on fossil fuels. For our economy to continue to be based on fossil fuels is life-destroying and immoral. We need President Biden to declare a ‘climate emergency’ to stop federal approval of all new fossil fuel excavation and use executive authority to invest in regenerative clean energy solutions. This is your moment, President Biden, to be the man of faith that you are!”

“In his own words, President Biden says climate change is an ‘existential threat to human existence as we know it’. This was at COP 26 last year and since then the key indicators for exacerbating climate change have accelerated even faster than was previously expected. Harmful greenhouse gas emissions are going up, Arctic land ice melt is unprecedented. Our children are terrified. President Biden, we need you to show leadership and integrity. Take executive action on climate change. Doing nothing is not an option,” said Pippa Bartolotti, Upper Hudson Green Party.

“Unions in the United States are taking united actions to solve the climate crisis,” said Doug Bullock, First Vice President, Albany County Central Federation of Labor. “Many Labor Councils and unions have adopted resolutions for fossil fuel divestment in pension funds and after significant pressure, the New York State Retirement system has divested billions of dollars in its fund for 2021 with a planned goal of $20 billion of sustainable investments. Further,this fund just announced the best return rate in its 100-year history in 2021 — a 33% return rate. Joe Biden must continue this trend by declaring a climate emergency and taking executive action to help solve this crisis.”

“President Biden, today we demand you take bold steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Investing in affordable, accessible, reliable and energy efficient mass transit must be a top priority. Many disabled people rely on public transit and many of our caregivers, who make less than $15 an hour, are also public transit reliant,” said Julie Cee Farrar, Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley. “As a society, we must boldly address climate change now. Not provide hollow promises with vague solutions as we continue to poison our planet and sabotage our children’s future.”

Photos of the event will be available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]