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Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders lead push to declare climate emergency

Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders lead push to declare climate emergency
© Greg Nash

Progressive lawmakers are pushing a resolution to declare a climate emergency in the U.S., demanding “a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address” climate change.

Sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse Democrats unveil spending bill to boost staff pay, maintain lawmaker pay freeze Five takeaways from New York's primaries Ocasio-Cortez says she ranked Wiley first, Stringer second in NYC mayoral vote MORE (D-N.Y.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerBipartisan bill proposes to add billion in restaurant relief funds White House pressed on evacuating Afghan allies as time runs out Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience MORE (D-Ore.) in the House and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden is keeping the filibuster to have 'a Joe Manchin presidency' On The Money: Biden to fire FHFA director after Supreme Court removes restriction | Yellen pleads with Congress to raise debt ceiling MORE (I-Vt.) in the Senate, the resolution calls climate change the result of human activity that requires “a national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States.”

“This is a political crisis of inaction. It’s going to take political will, political courage in order for us to treat this issue with the urgency that the next generation needs,” Ocasio-Cortez said on a call with reporters to discuss the resolution. 

Blumenauer said he got the idea from President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE after he declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year in order to transfer funds to build a border wall.

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The climate resolution, which is expected to be introduced in the House later Tuesday, would not open up disaster funds for battling climate change, but Democrats said they planned to use the measure to call for swift action from Congress.

“It’s past time,” Blumenauer said. “Congress needs to understand this is an emergency and act like it.”

Ocasio-Cortez stressed a 12-year time frame for taking action on climate change, something she said is not a deadline for Congress to pass legislation but for a plan to take effect and actually start limiting carbon pollution.

Even if such a resolution did pass the Democratic-led House, it would be unlikely to be considered in the GOP-led Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCan Manchin answer his predecessor's call on voting rights? Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' Democrats' narrow chance to retain control after 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) said in May that a bill to recommit the U.S. to the Obama-era Paris climate accord would "go nowhere" in the Senate after it passed the lower chamber.

Still, the resolution could have implications for the 2020 White House race.

Margaret Klein Salamon, founder of the The Climate Mobilization, one of the groups that helped develop the resolution, said the group plans to ask all presidential candidates to commit to declaring a national emergency for climate change. Democractic presidential hopefuls Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Tech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup | Rick Scott blocks Senate vote on top cyber nominee until Harris visits border | John McAfee dies Klobuchar questions Amazon, Alphabet over smart-home devices Schumer vows next steps after 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum House lawmakers introduce bill to overhaul military justice system Pentagon chief backs change to military sexual assault prosecution MORE (N.Y.) Cory BookerCory BookerThousands sent to emergency rooms every year due to violent police encounters: investigation Democrats fear they are running out of time on Biden agenda Harris casts tiebreaking vote to confirm OPM nominee MORE (N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRick Scott blocks Senate vote on top cyber nominee until Harris visits border Head of Border Patrol resigning from post Migrant children face alarming conditions in US shelter: BBC investigation MORE (Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Overnight Health Care: CDC panel meets on vaccines and heart inflammation | Health officials emphasize vaccine is safe | Judge rules Missouri doesn't have to implement Medicaid expansion Democrats urge Biden to extend moratorium on student loan payments MORE (Mass.) are also co-sponsors of the resolution.

Sanders, one of the highest-polling Democratic presidential candidates who has yet to release a climate plan, said he will release a climate policy and stressed the need to transition away from fossil fuels and engage other countries in a global plan to combat climate change. 

“No plan will be implemented unless we have the courage to take on the greed and dishonesty of the fossil fuel industry. They lie every single day. They try to obfuscate what they are doing in terms of carbon emissions and what that means for the planet,” Sanders said.

“This is not a scientific issue,” he said, adding that scientists have made clear what is needed to battle climate change. “It’s a question of political will.”

Ocasio-Cortez and Blumenauer likewise said addressing the fossil fuel industry would need to be part of any plan.

Blumenauer specifically identified the Green New Deal, sprawling legislation sponsored by Ocasio-Cortez and introduced earlier this year, as the best framework for dealing with the climate emergency.

Sanders also stressed the need to battle “the ignorance of Donald Trump” as part of the fight against climate change.

On Monday, Trump claimed the Green New Deal would “crush the dreams of the poorest Americans and disproportionately harm minority communities."

Declaring a national climate emergency would build on similar resolutions passed by local and regional governments in other countries.

More than 700 such resolutions have passed globally, according to the International Climate Emergency Forum, though just 19 are from cities in the U.S., many of them from local governments in California.

Updated at 3:59