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The Moment is Now – President Biden, Declare A Climate Emergency

“We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open. It’s time to wake up and step up…Fossil fuels are a dead end – for our planet, for humanity, and yes, for economies.” – UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterez.

By Isabella Zizi, National Organizer, Movement Rights

The urgency to declare a climate emergency grows with every new climate-induced event from the devastating fires in Maui and across Turtle Island, unprecedented tornadoes caused by warming seas and heat waves. Invoking a national Climate Emergency isn’t just saying the words, it’s a powerful Executive Branch tool that unlocks a set of sweeping actions the President could take with or without Congress to limit fossil fuel investments, end offshore drilling, fast-track renewable energy and more. Yet President Biden and his Administration are approving fossil fuel projects left and right. This has led to outrage and despair among frontline communities, yet it is on the frontlines where we find the solutions to the climate crisis.


Just look at what happened this summer with youth plaintiffs in Held v. State of Montana; a constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 16 Montana youth against their State to protect their equal rights to a healthy environment, life, dignity, and freedom. They are suing because their government keeps promoting and supporting fossil fuel extraction and burning, which is making the climate crisis worse, harming the youth plaintiffs. Setting new precedent, on August 14th 2023, Judge Kathy Seeley in the First Judicial District Court of Montana historically ruled wholly in favor of the 16 youth plaintiffs.


In another unprecedented call-out of fossil fuels, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced a Climate Ambition Summit this September during climate week in New York. This is a huge stepping stone for countries and communities, like us in the U.S. who are demanding an end to fossil fuels and recognizing the dire need to shift economically and ecologically towards a truly sustainable world. Movement Rights and our coalition partners the People VS Fossil Fuels and allies from around the world will be kicking off climate week with the March to End Fossil Fuels on September 17, 2023 and with actions in New York and around the world.

Movement Rights' board member and Idle No More SF Bay Grandmother Alison Ehara Brown and Isabella Zizi at a Bay Area Action in June 2023 as part of the national ramp-up to Climate Week

End Fossil Fuels

Nationally and globally, we have experienced record breaking heat storms, thousands of miles of forests and homes engulfed in flames and deadly floods in California, New York, India and Spain either back to back or at the same time. Reuters wrote, “As of June 26, the annual emissions from the fires are now the largest for Canada since satellite monitoring began in 2003, surpassing 2014 at 140 million tonnes.” The timing of these climate crises couldn’t sound a much higher wake up call. Social media is calling this the longest, saddest “I told you so” in history because Indigenous and frontline communities have been taking action and putting their bodies on the line for decades. Most recently there have been ongoing concerns because of projects such as Willow Master Development Plan, Line 5 and Mountain Valley Pipeline which are being fast tracked by Biden and his administration.


Just shy of a month after the Willow Master Development Plan; the largest oil drilling project ever on federal lands in Alaska, with the potential to unleash as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the yearly output of 56 million automobiles, was approved, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Responsibility Act, also known as “the Dirty Deal”, which included yet another fast track approval for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Appalachian and other frontline communities have been fighting this deal and had successfully stopped it 3 times, mobilizing locals and national organizers to prevent this from happening. Dr. Crystal Cavalier Keck, founder of 7 Directions of Service and board member of Movement Rights announced after the approval, “Our demand for a clean debt ceiling is not just about protecting our communities from the fatal threats of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. It’s about fighting for the democratic processes we’ve all been promised, and that we deserve.”

We Rise for Humanity and Mother Earth

Sometimes it feels like we who are on the frontlines, or in support of other frontline communities, there’s anticipation for a rubber stamp approval, but it doesn’t feel like a final defeat. Mother Earth does not negotiate, once a climate devastation occurs in one location, the impact is felt and seen in ripple effects. The climate justice movement, led by those on the frontlines of the worst impacts, has been reflecting the urgency that more and more people now feel as soon as they step outside.

Fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas is at the center of it all producing nearly 90% of carbon dioxide emissions. What support is needed in your community to stop fossil fuel expansions? What motivates you to take action? Will you join us in the streets? At regulatory meetings? Art builds?


“At the same time, we need to seize the opportunity to invest in credible innovations that can contribute to reaching our global targets. We must also speed-up efforts to deliver climate justice to those on the frontlines of many crises — none of them they caused.”  says UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres.



Those who are on the ground see the impacts day in and day out and People VS. Fossil Fuels delegators are demanding Biden and his Administration to:

1. Stop all federal approvals for new fossil fuel projects and repeal permits for climate bombs like the Willow project and Alaska LNG (liquified natural gas).

 2. Phase out fossil fuel drilling on our public lands and waters.

 3. Declare a climate emergency to halt oil exports and investments in fossil fuel projects abroad, AND lead a just transition to clean, community energy.

A Brighter Future for All

I am one of thousands of others making a commitment to go to New York for climate week, to march with Indigenous and frontline communities, to learn and broadcast their demands for a livable planet that no longer isolate their struggles, and to share them back home in the SF Bay Area and beyond.

As Casey Camp-Horinek; a Ponca Environmental Ambassador and Movement Rights’ Board Chair was quoted in the Washington Post; “There’s been 500 years of people coming into a territory where all things were interdependent and functioning to a time of crisis, where even Biden’s great-grandchildren won’t survive if something doesn’t change.”

The real movers and makers in the world haven’t been portrayed as those in decision making seats but the power lies in all of us at the grassroots level to rise for change. Those who step into their own leadership position is benefit to the collective movement—the ones who think selflessly and include our non-human relatives and future generations into their actions. Most importantly, the ones who ask “where can I help?” and follow the guidance or protocols from the frontlines without hesitation.


As Movement Rights’ prepares to go to New York, I will think about my community that I grew up in, the community that raised me, and the new community that awaits a long but beautiful journey towards a fossil-free world.


Join us in New York this September for climate week or participate in actions around the globe wherever you are. Movement Rights will be following Indigenous-leadership, frontline solutions including recognizing Rights of Nature, and calling for a phase out of fossil fuels. We must ensure the pressure on President Biden is larger— the time is now to declare a climate emergency.


As Antonio Guterres says “Now is the time to turn rage into action. Every fraction of a degree matters. Every voice can make a difference. And every second counts.”

About Movement Rights: Working with Tribes and Communities to Align Human Laws with Natural Laws

We are in the streets, in the news and in the courts, providing research and reports, convening strategic gatherings, speaking at the UN, community meetings, regulatory hearings, and more. We work with national and global climate allies, sovereign Indigenous Nations and communities. We have helped thousands of people connect the dots between the critical time we find ourselves in and the solutions that Indigenous people have always known: human activity must take place within the natural system of laws that govern life on Earth. Movement Rights works for climate justice, the rights of Indigenous peoples and the Rights of Nature. Consider making a donation today to support our work.