J. Scott Applewhite/AP
- Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday introduced a resolution to declare climate change a national emergency.
- In a call with reporters on the resolution, Sanders likened the challenges presented by climate change to Pearl Harbor and the way in which the US mobilized following Japan’s devastating surprise attack.
- "In some ways, and I know this sounds a little bit strange, I’m reminded today in terms of the crisis that we face in climate change about where the US was in 1941 when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor," Sanders said.
- The joint resolution calls on the US to join 16 other countries and hundreds of local governments — including recently New York City — in declaring a climate emergency.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders likened the climate change crisis to the Pearl Harbor attack and the country’s subsequent response and mobilization as he unveiled a resolution with Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer to declare it a national emergency.
During a call with reporters on the resolution on Tuesday, Sanders said, "In some ways, and I know this sounds a little bit strange, I’m reminded today in terms of the crisis that we face in climate change about where the US was in 1941 when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor."
Sanders added, "And what happened at that point — having to fight a war on two fronts, in the East and in Europe — the US came together and within three years it had created the type of armaments program that was necessary, in fact, to win the war."
The Vermont senator and presidential hopeful went on to say the problem isn’t that climate change can’t be addressed, but that there is a "lack of political will" to tackle it. Sanders also criticized President Donald Trump, who has expressed skepticism of the scientific community’s consensus on climate change, describing the president as "dangerously ignorant" on the issue.
"We know exactly what has to be done," Sanders said, going on to cite investments in sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and transforming the American transportation system.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.
The joint resolution calls on the US to join 16 other countries and hundreds of local governments — including recently New York City — in declaring a climate emergency.
Ocasio-Cortez emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue on Tuesday’s call with reporters.
"This is a political crisis of inaction, and it’s going to take political will and courage to treat this with the urgency that the next generation needs in order to preserve our way of life," the New York Democrat said. "We have less than 12 years to enact a global solution. This is a first step, and declaring a climate emergency is a good idea, this is what we need to do to start pursuing the plan we need."
Echoing these sentiments, Sanders said: "This is a moral imperative. There is no choice. We are going to have to take on the greed of the fossil fuel industry and the ignorance of Donald Trump."
The resolution is nonbinding, meaning it will not progress into law, and is therefore largely symbolic. But with the backing of two of the most well-known progressives in Congress, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, it could gain significant attention — and that appears to be their aim.
The resolution, which is endorsed by 15 independent organizations such as Greenpeace USA, demands a "national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States" in order to "restore the climate for future generations," according a press release.
In the resolution, which is also co-sponsored by other 2020 Democrats like Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand, the lawmakers said the US "has a proud history of collaborative, constructive, massive-scale federal mobilizations of resources and labor in order to solve great challenges, such as the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Reconstruction, the New Deal, and World War II."
The resolution’s introduction comes one day after Trump delivered an environmental speech that did not mention climate change once.
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