Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders Are Going to Introduce a Climate Emergency Resolution in Congress

They want to “restore the climate for future generations.”

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

On Tuesday, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Senate, will introduce a resolution asserting there is a climate emergency and demanding a wide-reaching mobilization to prepare for the consequences of climate change. They want to “restore the climate for future generations.”

“The global warming caused by human activities,” reads the draft Senate resolution obtained by Mother Jones, “has resulted in a climate emergency that…demands a national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States at a massive-scale.”

In a letter to their colleagues, Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez called for Congress to declare a national climate emergency to “swiftly mobilize federal resources in response.” Most of the resolution’s text details facts about climate change, citing global warming trends and the resulting threat to public health and national security in the US. The resolution doesn’t provide specific recommendations for federal funding to fight climate change, but rather lays out the evidence of a climate emergency in order move the rest of Congress towards further action.

A spokesperson for Sanders contrasted the climate emergency resolution with President Trump’s past use of emergency powers. “President Trump has routinely declared phony national emergencies to advance his deeply unpopular agenda,” he said, adding, “On the existential threat of climate change, Trump insists on calling it a hoax.”

My colleague Jackie Flynn Mogensen interviewed experts earlier this year about what might happen if a president were to declare a national emergency over climate change. She wrote:

For Francesco Femia, co-founder of the policy and security research nonprofit Center for Climate and Security, declaring a national emergency over climate change would be so much of an authoritarian overstep that it isn’t even worth entertaining the hypothetical.

But Congress declaring such an emergency would be different, because there would be less concern about vesting the executive branch with too much power.

This new resolution is just one example of how the push for Congress to take the reins on climate change is gaining traction. Last month, more than 60 climate justice and environmental groups such as The Climate Mobilization, Zero Hour, Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign, and Extinction Rebellion, launched an online petition for Congress to declare a federal climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion, a climate activist group, has organized protests around the globe and is demanding that Congress declare a federal climate emergency and make the resolution law. Sara Sokolinski, who works as an environmental researcher in DC and volunteers with Extinction Rebellion DC, said declaring a climate emergency “forces everyone to confront the reality and scale of the climate crisis” that she feels many have been avoiding.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.