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U.S. Grassroots Leaders Greet Biden at COP26 With Push to End Fossil Fuel Era

Biden Must Stop Fossil Fuel Project Approvals, Declare Climate Emergency

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Tom B.K. Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network addresses a rally outside the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. ,

GLASGOW, Scotland— Grassroots leaders from the Build Back Fossil Free campaign rallied ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s remarks at the United Nations climate summit today in Glasgow, Scotland. Representatives of Indigenous, Black and frontline communities — along with dozens of other climate justice groups — demanded Biden take executive action to stop fossil fuel project approvals and declare a climate emergency.

President Biden has continued to approve fossil fuel expansion in recent months, while pointing to Congress to excuse the United States’ lack of climate ambition and espousing false solutions like carbon capture and “net zero” plans that perpetuate fossil fuel destruction and environmental racism. New analysis from Oil Change International shows that using executive action, Biden could stop at least 24 key fossil fuel projects totaling over 1.6 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions, including the Line 3 and Dakota Access pipelines.

“For Indigenous communities, President Biden comes to Glasgow as a promise-breaker,” said Grandmother Mary Lyons, a frontline matriarch fighting the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. “He said he’d uphold the treaties and stop leasing public lands to fossil fuel polluters. Instead, he failed to stop the Line 3 pipeline and supercharged oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters. From the front lines to Washington to Glasgow, we’re telling Biden to reject Big Oil’s lies, ban federal oil and gas leasing and stop fueling climate catastrophe.”

The Build Back Fossil Free coalition says that the only way for the Biden administration to meet its climate commitments is to act decisively to curb fossil fuels using authority under existing laws. The campaign’s demands include urging Biden to follow through on his campaign promise to ban federal fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, end permits for fossil fuel infrastructure projects, stop fossil fuel exports, and declare a climate emergency to rapidly advance a just transition to distributed, renewable energy.

“Millions of people around the world are falling through the net of Biden’s false climate promises,” said Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead of using the executive powers at his fingertips, Biden is falling prey to polluters’ ‘net zero’ delays and distractions like carbon capture. We are out of time for the president to take his executive powers off the shelf. He needs to act now to halt fossil fuel extraction on public lands, declare a climate emergency and ignite a just and renewable energy revolution. Anything less is leaving a scorched future for people and our planet.”

Despite promising to ban new federal oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters, Biden’s administration has scheduled a giant offshore oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico to take place right after the summit.

“Communities like Port Arthur cannot afford another day of climate talk with no walk,” said John Beard, chief executive officer of the Port Arthur Community Action Network. “To talk about climate leadership when Biden’s about to lease a huge portion of our Gulf for drilling is outrageous. We’re calling on Biden to use tools he already has to redress fossil-fueled environmental racism, stop oil and gas exports, declare a climate emergency and make renewable energy a reality for all.”

Today’s demonstration builds on the historic People vs. Fossil Fuels week of action last month in Washington, D.C., where thousands of people marched in the streets and more than 650 people were arrested.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.