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By Sarah May on
 August 11, 2023

Biden, Kirby address questions about possible climate emergency declaration

For much of his presidency, Joe Biden has been under significant pressure from environmental activists to declare a national emergency on climate, and recent days have seen conflicting messages from the administration on what has been done to date and what might be on the horizon regarding the issue, as Breitbart reports.

During a Thursday interview on CNN This Morning, John Kirby, the White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told host Poppy Harlow that the commander in chief has yet to decide whether such a declaration is in the offing. The spokesman did, however, add that “all the severe storms...we continue to see are definitely caused as a result of what's going on in the rising temperature across the globe.”

Even so, Kirby added, “the president hasn't made a decision yet on declaring a national emergency on climate...[b]ut, for all intents and purposes, he's treating this with all the due gravity and the seriousness that the climate crisis deserves.”

Taking a cautious approach to his answer, Kirby went on, “I don't want to get ahead of the president or his decision-making here. All I can tell you is that, as an administration, we're going to stay focused on the climate crisis. It is front and center. It is right in front of us.”

Kirby's boss, however, seems to be under the impression that the decision has already been made – in the affirmative, as Politico explains.

Just one day prior to Kirby's statement, Biden sat down for an interview with Weather Channel meteorologist Stephanie Abrams, and during their chat, the president maintained with regard to the much-debated declaration, “[w]e've already done that.”

“We've conserved more land, we've moved into rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. We've got a $60 billion climate control facility,” Biden stated.

But, when asked if any such formal declaration has been made – which would give the administration far more sweeping powers to act on climate initiatives – Biden said, “[p]ractically speaking, yes.”

When confronted about the discrepancy between the truth of the situation and Biden's representations to Abrams, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre did not contradict her boss, but simply said, “This is a president that has taken really an ambitions approach to climate change.”

The entire scenario underscores the difficulty Biden may have with younger, more progressive voters who took his 2020 campaign pledges about the environment at face value, as Abrams suggested.

“You promised no new drilling on federal land or offshore. Can you tell Gen Z that you haven't broken your promise?” Abrams queried, according to National Review.

Biden went on to cite a series of actions he said were indicative of his commitment to addressing climate change, but his remarks seemed unsuccessful in assuaging the frustrations of environmental advocates.

“It's not enough for Biden to 'practically' declare a climate emergency. It's time to officially announce one,” said a statement from the Institute for Policy Studies. Kassie Siegel of the Climate Law Institute of the Center for Biological Diversity was even more cutting in her response, saying, “The unfortunate reality is that doing some good things is simply not enough, because we are in a physical climate emergency.”

“Practically speaking,” Siegel later said, “Biden has devastated communities and wildlife by backing disastrous carbon bombs from Alaska to Appalachia” in comments that put into stark relief the very real challenges the president must face in terms of appeasing his party's left wing while also appealing to moderates as he heads into the 2024 contest.

Written By:
Sarah May

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