President Biden is facing pressure to declare a national climate emergency which would unlock federal resources to address the crisis as soon as this week. More than 100 million people in the US are under either a heat warning about dangerous conditions or heat advisories amid record temperatures, as 85 major wildfires burn in 13 states. But he decided to delay it. Congress appears unlikely to move on climate change. First, Biden’s actions Wednesday will include new funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program to protect communities facing extreme heat.
Projects under the program aim to reduce the risks communities face from disasters and natural hazards. John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Tuesday that infrastructure is already being impacted by climate change, such as millions of dollars being invested in Norfolk naval bases to improve infrastructure being impacted by rising sea levels. A formal declaration would open up new possibilities for unilateral action by the executive branch to combat climate change, including halting U.S. exports of crude oil and halting offshore drilling. Using the Defense Production Act to build up domestic clean energy manufacturing capacity is also a possibility. So far, 38 countries declared a climate emergency until now.