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Biden Issues Strong Climate, Economic Stances—But Must Scale Up to Fight Climate Emergency

Joe Biden issues a powerful stance on climate justice and reinvigorating economy, though he falls short in scale and speed necessary to fight the Climate Emergency.

BROOKLYN, NY: July 14, 2020— The Climate Mobilization issued the following comments regarding the environmental justice & economic opportunity and the sustainable infrastructure plans by former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Biden gets a lot right, especially around in the areas of racial and climate justice and equity for historically marginalized groups and working people; but he’s still got a lot of room for improvement in increasing the scale, scope and speed in which he addresses the Climate Emergency,” said Matt Renner, Executive Director for The Climate Mobilization.

“Support for a Biden presidency from the climate movement should be contingent on his commitment to actually achieving climate safety in a just and equitable way, not simply going beyond what is considered politically possible,” added Renner.

The Climate Mobilization also points out that the interim targets for decarbonization are not stringent enough.

“The last twelve months were the hottest we’ve ever experienced – an average of 1.3ºC above pre-industrial temperatures. Vice President Biden’s plan, while a clear departure from the market-based solutions of the past two decades, ultimately fails to reckon with the massive climate risks we face within the next decade,” said Laura Berry, Director of Research and Policy for The Climate Mobilization. “Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector would only cut domestic emissions by 27% — but we need to be eliminating emissions across the economy as quickly as possible.”

 The Climate Mobilization Key Critiques of the Biden plan:

  • Biden’s commitments (too-late interim targets for decarbonization) don’t even give us the chance of a coin flip described by the IPCC.
  • Carbon free electricity is a critical milestone in the effort to achieve zero carbon. But it is not nearly comprehensive and excludes transportation, industrial uses, and non-electric heating. Alone decarbonizing the electric power sector would only reduce US emissions by 27%.
  • Buildings – plans to upgrade and weatherize millions of homes, incentivize replacement of appliances, and build sustainable housing are good – but not very specific. Only has a commitment to reduce emission from building stock 50% by 2035.
  • Transportation – Federal investments towards providing all Americans with access to zero carbon and sustainable public transit in large (100,000+ resident) cities is good, commitment to work with Amtrak to electrify national passenger rail is also good, but no overall emissions targets or plan to address emissions standards for vehicles beyond Obama-era regulations.
  • The Climate Mobilization celebrates the plan’s commitment to environmental justice – 40% of the $2T public investment to go to marginalized, frontline, and fence line communities. Increase in federal equity mapping to target investment. Commitment to creating an office of environmental and climate justice at the Department of Justice and developing a broad set of tools to address how “environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color.”

Understanding the Science: According to the IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5ºC – we must reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 and globally reach net zero by 2050 to have a 40-60% chance of staying below 1.5ºC of warming – which means there’s a 50/50 chance that we’ll go beyond 1.5ºC even with those cuts. A new study from the World Meteorological Association also shows that there’s now a 20% chance we’ll reach 1.5ºC of warming by 2024.

Other recent plans that go beyond Biden’s recent plan: 

The DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis: Calls for spending around $10-$16 trillion in federal expenditures over the next decade in order to address the Climate Emergency: And also ambitious short- and long-term emissions and renewable energy targets: near-zero emissions by 2040; 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation; and 100% zero-carbon new building infrastructure by 2025.

Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal Plan:$16.3T plan, 161% emissions reductions by 2030 (by supporting international emissions reductions), with zero emissions domestic power + transportation by 2030 and full decarbonization by 2050.

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Alexia Leclerq

Network Coach

Alexia (she/they) is an environmental justice organizer based in Austin, TX. They graduated summa cum laude from NYU (’20), where they self-designed a major titled “The Politics and Economics of Inequality.” Their research focuses on political ecology, environmental justice, AAPI communities, inequality, postcolonialism. As an organizer and researcher they have spent the past 5 years working on various issues from preserving the Colorado River, water rights, fighting land use policy and zoning that enforces race-based discrimination, conducting ethnographic research on climate health, to organizing mutual aid, youth programming, and shaping national legislation alongside members of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance; today Alexia continues to work as an organizer with PODER, a grassroots EJ org. Alexia is also the co-founder of Start: Empowerment, a BIPOC led social and environmental justice education non-profit working with youth, educators, activists, and community members to implement justice-focused education and programming in schools and community spaces. S:E curriculum and programming has reached over 2,000 students, been recognized by the NYC Department of Education, and taught in universities. In 2021, their work was recognized by the prestigious Brower Youth Award.

Emmett Hopkins

National Organizer

Emmett organizes local-scale mobilization for the Sonoma County campaign, while supporting Climate Mobilization’s organizing efforts around the country. He brings over a decade of experience collaborating with diverse stakeholders to build community food systems, ensure equitable access to public lands, and mobilize resources towards a just transition to an amazing zero carbon future. He graduated from Stanford with a BS in Earth Systems and MS in Urban Planning & Sustainable Design. Emmett enjoys growing food and cultivating relationships, riding bikes and buses, and reimagining our communities to better serve all the people living in them.

Suha Dabbouseh

National Organizer

National Organizer Suha Dabbouseh leads national strategy for The Climate Mobilization. They are originally from Chicago but have lived, organized and rebel-roused in seven states and 11 cities. Suha received their law degree from CUNY-School of Law where they focused on social justice lawyering representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. While practicing law, Suha had worked to advocate on behalf of domestic violence survivors, transgender clients and fighting employment discrimination. Their passion is building people power and organizing to dismantle structural inequities.

Matt Renner

Executive Director of The Climate Mobilization

Matt has worked as a nonprofit executive in clean energy, climate policy, and journalism for over a decade, focusing on the near-term social and economic impacts of climate change. He leads organizational expansion and works closely with the communications and organizing teams. Matt earned a BA in political science from UC Berkeley, where he was deeply inspired by the work of Professor George Lakoff.

Mariyah Jahangiri

Network Organizer

Mariyah leads Climate Mobilization Network’s recruitment, coordination, and organizing support. She has organized across movements and is passionate about addressing white supremacy in the mainstream climate movement and building capacity for youth-led, BIPOC-led intersectional climate movements. She has been inspired by her experiences organizing to defund the police in Boston, supporting mutual aid and food sovereignty projects in Iowa, Atlanta, and Puerto Rico, and working on a Make Big Polluters Pay campaign. Mariyah worked as an organizer with the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign and Planned Parenthood PAC. She graduated from Grinnell College with a Sociology degree.

Rebecca Harris

Co-Leader and Director of Organizing

Rebecca leads Climate Mobilization organizing efforts. Along with a history of social movement organizing, Rebecca he has worked as a journalist covering equity in Chicago public schools. Most recently, Rebecca worked as Development and Communications Manager at Latino Union of Chicago, an immigrants’ and workers’ rights organization. She is a 2017 graduate of the Reframe Mentorship in strategic communications and a 2019 participant in the Anne Braden Organizer Training Program.

Marina Mails

Co-Leader and Director of Operations
Marina manages operations and volunteers for both The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. She brings broad experience working in non-profit organizations, health care settings, and running her own private counseling practice. Before joining Climate Mobilization, Marina maintained a practice focusing exclusively on climate-related emotional coping, helping people make bold choices for lifestyle and professional change in response to the Climate Emergency. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Wake Forest University and a Masters in Counseling from UNC Greensboro.

Meghann Beer

Co-Leader and Director of Resource Mobilization and Strategy

Meghann brings more than 20 years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience to The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. For over a decade Meghann has worked as a nonprofit consultant helping organizations expand their capacity, secure revenue, develop successful strategies, and effectively evaluate their programs, enabling them to create greater positive change in the world. She has also worked as an executive director, designed and facilitated international service learning experiences, and taught university courses in fundraising and nonprofit management. Meghann earned a MPA in Nonprofit Management and Comparative and International Affairs from The School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, in Bloomington, IN and a BA in Art History and American Studies from Tufts University in Boston, MA.

Cris Lagunas

Strategy Director

Cris is helping to grow the Climate Emergency Movement by supporting creative campaigns and extending the reach of the movement’s message. Cris is a co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an organization dedicated to using direct action tactics to expose, challenge and dismantle the immigration detention system.Cris got his start in organizing when he was 15 years old, getting involved in a local group of fellow undocumented youth.

Zack Burley

Policy Associate

Zack provides policy support for the Climate Mobilization team, and brings a versatile set of policy skills and experiences in labor organizing, journalism, legislative politics, and legal practice to the climate emergency movement. Zack earned a JD from Denver University Sturm College of Law, is a founding organizer of the Political Workers Guild of Colorado, and formerly served as a legislative aide in the Colorado General Assembly.

AriDy Nox

Co-Leader and Director of Narrative Strategy

 AriDy Nox is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist with a variety of forward-thinking creative works under her/their belt. They create out of the vehement belief that creating a future in which marginalized peoples are free requires a radical imagination. Their tales are offerings intended to function as small parts of an ancient, expansive, awe-inspiring tradition of world-shaping, created by and for black femmes. They have over a decade of experience as a young social activist and organizer, within reproductive justice and racial justice frameworks with organizations like the Young Women of Color Leadership Council with Advocates for Youth, the Toni Cade Bamabara Collective at Spelman College and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. They bring creativity, enthusiasm and a tremendous capacity for organization to her/their role and deep belief that times of apocalypse are opportunities for rebirth. We need first imagine the world we want in order to create it.