By Whitney Richardson
Dear President-Elect Biden,
We see you packing your (figurative) bags in preparation for your move into the White House. As you make plans to enact your presidential agenda, we urge you to use your executive powers to simultaneously and swiftly make right on all of the following:
- Establish an office of Climate Mobilization to coordinate—across all federal departments—the national project of stopping climate change.
- Enact a federal program to enable a just transition to clean energy across the nation and champion community-led groups working on this issue.
- Secure a retirement date for all coal plants currently operating across the country and begin a just transition process for: 1) local workers, who need retraining and placement in clean energy jobs; and 2) local communities impacted by toxic pollution, which deserve comprehensive remediation plans.
- Mandate that public companies fully disclose climate change-related financial risks and greenhouse gas emissions related to their operations.
- Confront and prohibit all emissions and harmful disposal of noxious pollutants—such as ethylene oxide (EtO) and coal ash—that disproportionately harm Black and brown communities and, particularly, low-income communities. Champion efforts to ensure impacted communities can secure dignified work in their region.
- Reverse all rollbacks enacted under the Trump administration and protect federal lands from harmful development promoted by the Trump administration. This includes threats to essential natural areas such as efforts to exempt Alaska’s irreplaceable, old-growth Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule and plans to develop the Bear Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments.
- As an underlying principle, we demand your administration prioritize people over profits. For too long, climate summits have reflected industry interests over the will of the people—effectively disabling potential for meaningful climate action. We’ve had enough. We’ve seen the data. We know what needs to be done.
We must remember we are here under the condition that our planet—experienced through our micro-environments—can retain the capacity to sustain us. It’s time to restore this essential lesson within our collective conscience. Climate change won’t wait. Our health won’t wait. Meaningful action can’t wait.
Clean Power Lake County
Whitney Richardson lives in Vernon Hills, Illinois, and recently completed a Master of Science degree in international environmental studies.