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Howie Hawkins, who is seeking the Green Party presidential nomination, today urged the next president to declare a Climate Emergency on the first day in office.
Hawkins pointed out: “By declaring the climate crisis a national emergency, the president is empowered by existing laws to address the climate crisis without congressional approval. Congressional, presidential, Pentagon and intelligence reports and policy documents have identified climate change as a national security threat since 1990. It is time for immediate action to confront climate chaos.”
Hawkins said that by declaring a Climate Emergency, the president would likely be able to take immediate steps without Congress, including:
- Reorganize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), now captured by the fossil fuel industry, into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC) with the new mission of enabling a rapid shift to clean renewable energy.
- Divert military construction funds to building clean renewable energy.
- Suspend oil leases because they add to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Use emergency powers to respond to industrial shortfalls to support clean renewable energy.
- Extend loan guarantees to critical industries to support renewable energy.
- Instruct the Department of Transportation to use its broad power to “coordinate transportation” during national emergencies to restrict gasoline-powered truck and vehicle transportation while expanding electrified rail transportation.
- Use US votes in the IMF and World Bank to ban funding for fossil fuel projects.
- Declare a ban on eminent domain for fossil fuel infrastructure.
- Mandate that federal agencies weigh the climate impact of their decisions.
- Reward proposals for government contracts based on their impact on climate change
- Instruct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require corporations to disclose their vulnerability to climate impacts.
- Close the loophole in EPA regulations that exempts agribusiness from reporting the greenhouse gas emissions of cattle, unlike other agricultural products.
- Require projects subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires analysis and mitigation of environmental impacts, to include measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Hawkins is pleased to see Democratic candidates putting forward climate plans, but none go far enough. Hawkins said, “Even the best plan announced today by Senator Sanders, fails to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions fast enough for climate safety. His cuts to the military, the largest climate polluter, are insufficient and vague. I am calling for a 75% cut in military spending to redirect major financial, physical and human resources into the Green New Deal.”
Hawkins, in 2010, was the first US candidate to run on the Green New Deal. The centerpiece of his presidential campaign is an ecosocialist Green New Deal. It calls for social ownership and democratic administration in order to carry through a rapid energy transformation. It calls for socializing key productive sectors, notably energy production, power distribution, railroads, and a domestic manufacturing sector to be rebuilt on a green basis with clean power and zero waste.
Hawkins said the mission of this Green Economy Reconstruction Program is to build a 100% clean energy system and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. He would create a cabinet-level Office of Climate Mobilization to coordinate all federal agencies to meet this goal. The program would reconstruct all productive sectors for 100% clean energy–from agriculture and manufacturing to housing and transportation–not just electric power production.
Hawkins also said the greenhouse gas reduction timelines in the Democratic Green New Deal proposals are too slow. The most ambitious of them call for 100% clean power by 2030, which accounts for only 28% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. They wait until 2050 to zero out the other 72% of greenhouse gas emissions. Hawkins said the climate science tells us a 2050 deadline is far too late to avert a climate catastrophe.
The Hawkins’ Green New Deal also includes an Economic Bill of Rights to secure basic economic human rights for all.
“The Green New Deal has been the Green Party’s signature program over the last decade. Sanders’ Green New Deal is the closest version yet to the full Greens’ full program. We’re glad for that. But we need to pick up the pace for zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions. We’re running out of time to avert a climate holocaust,” Hawkins said.