Activists Deliver 16-foot “Earth” into Biden’s Hands as Nearly Half A Million Demand He Declare Climate Emergency

by Tyler Kruse

August 2, 2022

Calls for President Biden to follow through on his climate promise continue to grow as the death tolls and long-term impacts from heatwaves, drought, floods, and other climate disasters rise. 

© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

WASHINGTON DC (August 2, 2022)–Greenpeace USA activists delivered a 16-foot inflatable Earth to the White House today along with nearly half a million petition signatures demanding that President Biden declare a climate emergency. The action, which symbolized that a livable planet is in Biden’s hands, kicked off a day of climate emergency rallies in 19 cities across the country. Calls for President Biden to follow through on his climate promise continue to grow as the death tolls and long-term impacts from heatwaves, drought, floods, and other climate disasters rise.

18-year-old Gemma Gutierrez, Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE) Youth Advisory Board Member, said: “I am surrounded by the devastating effects of inaction: wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and record-breaking heatwaves. Millions displaced, children poisoned by their own backyards, and living in certain zip codes cutting life expectancy in half. As a teenager calling for climate justice, I do so with the moral authority of someone whose future is on the line. We urgently need President Biden to declare a national climate emergency!”

Despite a big investment in renewable energy, the draft Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) currently being discussed in Congress falls short in addressing the out-of-control fossil fuel industry at the root of the climate crisis. By itself, the IRA is not enough to keep warming under 1.5 degrees and secure a livable future, and would lock in decades of fossil fuel pollution for communities in Appalachia, the Gulf Coast, and Alaska.

The petitions launched by Greenpeace USA, Sunrise Movement, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, MoveOn, 350Merced, Food & Water Watch, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Climate Smart Missoula, Center for Biological Diversity, People vs Fossil Fuels, Climate Hawks Vote, Green New Deal Network, Honor the Earth, Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE), Third Act National, Mothers Out Front, Better Path Coalition, and 350Colorado provided President Biden with specific actions he should take to prevent a climate catastrophe and advance climate justice. These include:

  • Working with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to end fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters to protect them from any further pollution, contamination, or destruction at the hands of Big Oil.
  • Halting the export of crude oil by reinstating the export ban. The ban existed for 40 years, and since it was lifted US exports have skyrocketed, as have associated greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Expanding on the June 6th order under the Defense Production Act to spur electric transportation development and create millions of good-paying union jobs.

Jean Su, Energy Justice program director, Center for Biological Diversity, said: “As Congress negotiates climate measures, President Biden must champion a package free of fossil fuel handouts and declare a climate emergency to deliver the robust, all-of-government response we need. By using his full arsenal of emergency and ordinary executive powers, Biden can take sweeping action to protect our climate and curb fossil fuels where Congress is failing to do so. Deadly floods, severe heat and destructive fires all tell us we’re in a climate emergency, but no one has power like President Biden to confront it.”

Ashley Thomson, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA, said: “Last week more than 85 million people in the U.S. were under heat-related advisories and 42 states are in a drought. The climate emergency is happening. President Biden needs to act like it now if he wants to preserve a livable future.”

Bill McKibben, Founder of Third Act, said: “The planet’s climate is obviously in a state of emergency–alarms are going somewhere each day, as fire, flood, heat and drought remake the map. We must all do all we can–and for the president, that means declaring an emergency, both to bear witness to the truth, and to expand his power to do what he, above all others, can.”

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder & CEO of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, said: “Jewish law acknowledges the need for action at unprecedented times with the legal principle: hora’at sha’ah, for “times of urgent need” or “times of emergency.” We find ourselves in such a time, and urgently need President Bident to deliver bold action not more polluting fossil fuels.”

Winona LaDuke, Executive Director, Honor the Earth, said: “As prophesied by Anishinaabe people, we are now in the time of 7th Fire, the time when humanity chooses either the worn, scorched path or the fresh, green path. Regardless of what Congress does, President Biden must declare the climate emergency and expedite a justice-based transition from fatal fossils to real renewables. We turned out in record numbers to put him in office; let President Biden keep his promises and send a message to the nation and the world that climate doom is not our destiny – we choose the new green path.”

Karen Feridun, Co-founder, Better Path Coalition (PA): “President Biden doesn’t need to declare a climate emergency. People across the globe have been doing that for years and have been ignored. What he needs to do now is hear them, acknowledge the emergency, and exercise the full extent of his executive powers to address it.”

John Beard, founder of the Port Arthur Community Action Network, said: “It’s now or never; either we take decisive, concrete steps to reduce our carbon output and accelerate implementation of clean green renewable energy, or inflict untold suffering on current and future generations. We who live on the Gulf Coast, in Appalachia and tribal communities, who are severely impacted by climate change demand that you keep your word to make the hard choices. We fully expect you to keep your word, Mr. President!

“No if, and or buts; no mixed messages or stalling, and no compromises with our lives and health! We demand that you issue a climate emergency, jump start the Defense Production and National Emergencies acts; use your executive authority and with a stroke of a pen, you can put America and the world on a fossil free path to a better future.”



Media notes:

Photos of the 16-foot Earth at the White House are available in the Greenpeace Media Library.

List of the 19 rallies:

Media contacts: 

Tyler Kruse, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, [email protected], 808-741-2791

Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, [email protected], (415) 770-3187

Tonyisha Harris, Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE), [email protected], (312) 724-9824‬

Tyler Kruse

By Tyler Kruse

Tyler Kruse is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy.

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