What Climate Activists expect from Joe Biden
When it comes to Climate Change and Global Warming, there’s little doubt that Joe Biden was clearly the lesser of two evils. Donald Trump on the other hand is an outright climate change denier. Even though Biden was not the first choice of climate activists in the 2020 US Elections, they had to rally around someone. Here’s who their first choice was, how they got together to get Biden elected, and how they plan to deal with his Presidency.
How Bernie Sanders was the real hope for Climate activists
The Climate activists we will be focusing on are the Sunrise Movement. They recently talked to Buzzfeed and talked about their political organization in the past few months in great detail. They mentioned that initially, they had pegged their hope on Bernie Sanders. And rightfully so, because of his Green New Deal that practically transforms the social contract of Americans and the way the government treats the environment. One of the organizers told Buzzfeed about the disappointment they went through when Bernie lost:
Super Tuesday was one of the roughest days for Sunrise. I remember thinking, where do we go in this movement from here? It felt like Bernie held the hopes and dreams of our movement in his campaign. After Election Day, I realized he never intended for the revolution to be his, and I think that he’d be very proud of where we are today.
However, that was not to be as Bernie lost the Democratic primaries to the now-President, Joe Biden.
Biden wasn’t their preferred choice
Even when the Democratic primaries were underway, Biden was never the first choice for Climate activists. Climate change is a massive concern for young voters, and Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren polled much better among them. But, as soon as Biden won the nomination, the Sunrise Movement reminded Biden of his weak support among young voters.
How the Sunrise Movement rallied together for Joe Biden’s win
Despite the differences, climate activists from the Sunrise Movement and other organizations got behind Joe Biden. They organized campaigns and reached out to more than 2.5 million young voters in swing states, such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida. Varshini Prakash, a co-founder and a member of the Sanders-Biden Unity Task Force, said in a statement:
We delivered for Biden, now it’s his time to deliver for us. He ran as the climate candidate, and he must govern as the climate president. There’s no time to waste, and we can’t afford to spend another four years twiddling our thumbs in the face of Republican obstruction.
Biden has talked about Climate Change on multiple platforms and has the most progressive policy compared to other candidates. However, he faces a difficult challenge from the senate. The best-case scenario for the Democrats is that they tie the house with 50 seats. But even then, Mitch McConnel will continue to be the House Majority Leader. Despite that, climate activists have vowed that they’ll work with the Biden administration. However, that does not mean in any way that they’ll stop organizing.
Despite the Democrats winning the election, Climate activists won’t stop organizing
Evan Weber, the political director of Sunrise Movement has expressed that the purpose of the Sunrise Movement lies far beyond electing Joe Biden. He said:
I want to be crystal clear: We’ve always thought that getting Trump out of office was critical during this time period on the pathway to federal climate action and a more just world, but our mission is much bigger than that. Getting Trump out of office was just step one, and our movement has never been about electing Joe Biden. So now the real work begins.
That said, the Sunrise Movement and other climate activists will continue to help the Democrats win the two Senate seats in the Georgia Runoff elections. But, they’ll work hard to push Biden to use his executive powers as well.
Activists present a set of demands from Joe Biden
Climate activists are pushing Biden to appoint a “climate czar” and create an Office of Climate Mobilization. They hope that this “czar” will have more sweeping power and access to resources to impose climate regulations. Moreover, this isn’t an unprecedented concept in US history. Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Office of War Mobilization during World War II through an executive order. This is a perfect example of how Biden can enforce climate action. Prakash said in a statement, urging the Biden campaign:
The Senate can’t be an excuse; whether or not Mitch McConnell remains the Majority Leader, we need an Office of Climate Mobilization and visionary personnel in the Biden administration who are ready to use every tool in their disposal to create millions of good-paying green jobs.
Climate activists are coming together!
Furthermore, the Sunrise Movement is willing to work together with other activists, like the Working Families Party, Dream Defenders, and Movement for Black Lives, among others on progressive policies other than climate activism. They’ll be pushing the Biden administration and both the houses of Congress to work on issues like court expansion and congressional term limits if races in Georgia are successful. Weber said:
You’re going to hopefully see a lot of us teaming up on these issues. We stood together and worked shoulder to shoulder in the streets while organizing, and we’re going to stand shoulder to shoulder in governance. We’re not going to let our issues be played off each other or be told that one issue needs to sit back while the other takes its turn. Our fights are intertwined, and we’re going to be bringing on other fights, like immigration and labor fights.
You can read the full piece by Buzzfeed here.