April 21, 2021

300,000 People Send a Clear Message to Biden: Time’s Up for Fossil Fuels


Washington, DC — Today, youth strikers, climate impacted communities, and climate and environmental justice activists joined together to escalate the demand for President Joe Biden to #BuildBackFossilFree and stop all new fossil fuel projects, ahead of his Leaders Summit on Climate starting tomorrow, from April 22-23. 

A Climate Clock traveled from Union Square in New York City to the White House in Washington, D.C. with a petition demanding Biden and world governments stop all fossil fuel expansion. Speakers represented climate impacted communities and the demands of the 300,000 people who signed the Build Back Fossil Free petitions. Speakers also demonstrated the inherent connections between climate and racial justice, with today’s action taking place the day after the guilty conviction of  Derek Chauvin in murdering George Floyd. 

“On Day 1 in office, Biden cancelled Keystone XL. Now he must do the same with Line 3, the Dakota Access pipeline, and all new fossil fuel projects. There can be no meaningful climate action if we don’t keep all fossil fuels in the ground. By doing so, Biden will show the world that the U.S. is serious about facing the climate crisis at scale and centering the communities most impacted,” said Natalie Mebane, Policy Director of 350.org

Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate presents a key opportunity for world leaders to commit to bold, transformative climate ambition ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this November. A projection of the climate clock has also been installed in Glasgow. Biden and world governments must drastically increase emission reduction targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius. To do that, they must keep fossil fuels in the ground, including by stopping all new fossil fuel projects. 

The Biden Climate Summit is a big opportunity for the administration to end all fossil fuel projects that threaten our sacred lands, Manoomin(Wild Rice), Treaty’s, and waters. There is no such thing as safe fossil fuel pipelines — all pipelines leak –– and there is no time left to delay on bold climate action to protect my community and communities around the US,” said Silas Neeland of White Earth Nation.

Morgan Brings Plenty, Social Media Intern at Indigenous Environmental Network added, “The Dakota Access pipeline is an illegally operated pipeline; it has never had all of its permits. Biden has it in his authority to shut it down. Yes, he shut down Keystone XL on Day One, but he needs to shut down all of Trump’s pipelines’, including DAPL, Line 3, and Mountain Valley. We will not accept anything less then the complete shutdown and removal of DAPL. Respect our existence or expect our resistance.” 

“I traveled from cancer alley to Washington, D.C. because our community is being poisoned by oil, gas, and petrochemical industries,” said Sharon Lavigne, founder and director of RISE St. James. “We are fighting for our survival. President Biden must fulfill his promise to tackle climate change and environmental racism by revoking permits for Formosa Plastics’ proposed petrochemical complex in St. James, and placing a moratorium on all new and expanding petrochemical plants.”

As communities continue to rebuild and recover from the compound crises of COVID-19, racial and economic injustice, and devastating climate disasters, we are sending a clear signal to the Biden-Harris administration: it’s not enough to Build Back Better — we demand a Just Recovery to Build Back Fossil Free

“As a young, Black environmentalist, I am clear in my demands that Biden must be resolute and proactive in his actions in order to avoid the worst of the climate crisis,” said Elsa Mengistu, Climate Justice Consultant. “First and foremost, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. Communities that make up all of what I am are the ones who are bearing the brunt of this climate crisis and that is why I call for comprehensive, community-conscious, holistic solutions that do not leave us behind. If we truly want to tackle this exponential crisis, I believe it’s imperative that Biden centers and takes lead from communities of color and community-created solutions in his climate action.” 


Jane Kleeb, Founder, Bold Alliance: Pres. Biden stood with an unlikely alliance of farmers, Tribal Nations, and climate advocates to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. Biden is showing a bold and new standard of leadership that all Democrats and Republicans should follow—he respects our communities, and listens to climate science. We look forward to Keystone XL being the first, but not the last, of the Trump pipelines that Biden rejects as we start to create good-paying union jobs for clean energy and modern infrastructure. 

Selden Prentice, 350 Seattle: “While US policy leaders have known of the existence of climate change for at least 40 years, little to no federal policy changes have been enacted to address it. Now is the time for bold policy initiatives that will by 2030: keep fossil fuels in the ground, create a clean (renewable) electricity grid, a clean transportation sector, and mandated regenerative agriculture by the dominant corporate agricultural sector. At the same time, the Biden administration must include policy initiatives that allow for a just transition for workers, and that address the needs of front-line communities most affected by climate change.”

Julieta Biegner, Communications & Campaigns Officer, Global Witness: “It’s simple: the US has no credibility as a global climate leader while flooding the world with climate-wrecking fossil fuels. To show true climate leadership, President Biden must act to stop all new fossil fuel projects, which includes banning fossil fuel exports and protecting communities from environmental injustice.”

Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN): “The clock is ticking, we are in a climate emergency, and we can no longer afford any further fossil fuel extraction, infrastructure, or false climate solutions that continue to prioritize profits over people. To address the escalating climate crisis, we must build back fossil free; and that requires listening to and respecting the rights of Indigenous communities, shutting down fossil fuel pipelines and petrochemical plants, and investing in community-led climate solutions and a care economy. The era of fossil fuels is over, and the time for a rights-based, just transition to regenerative, renewable energy is now.”

Thomas Meyer, National Organizing Manager, Food & Water Watch: “Climate leadership starts at home. If President Biden wants to regain credibility with other world leaders, he first needs to regain the trust of the people in the United States who are most harmed by fracking and other dangerous fossil fuel projects. Whatever commitment the President announces tomorrow to reduce emissions will be meaningless without concrete action to keep fossil fuels in the ground.” 

Laura Berry, Research Lead, Climate Clock: “The Climate Clock makes clear the speed and scope of action that political leaders must take in order to limit the worst impacts of climate devastation. We’ll never run out of time to fight back against climate disruption — but we have less than seven years until we pass a critical threshold for limiting global warming below 1.5ºC. We need real solutions from the Biden Administration in order to reach zero emissions as quickly as possible and to build the fossil fuel free, renewable energy future that climate justice demands.”

Kassie Siegel, Director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute: “To be a credible world climate leader, President Biden needs to stop approving all U.S. fossil fuel infrastructure and end oil and gas exports. He also needs to use his executive powers to declare a climate emergency and spur a democratic clean-energy revolution. From ending environmental racism in Cancer Alley to shutting down pipelines like Dakota Access and Line 3, we need Biden to seize this moment to be the climate president and build back fossil free.”