Biden tells The Weather Channel he’s ‘practically’ declared climate emergency

President Joe Biden defended his climate record against criticisms from activists and said the United States is "moving" in the right direction against the "existential threat to America."

President Joe Biden, during an exclusive interview with The Weather Channel, said he has declared climate change a national emergency in practice.

“I’ve already done that,” Biden told The Weather Channel meteorologist and “Pattrn” co-host Stephanie Abrams while at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

President Joe Biden discusses investments in conservation and protecting natural resources, and how the Inflation Reduction Act is the largest investment in climate action, at Red Butte Airfield in Arizona on Tuesday. While at the Grand Canyon, he talked exclusively to The Weather Channel’s Stephanie Abrams about climate change. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

The president, who has repeatedly been urged by climate change activists to declare a climate emergency, argued that while he has not technically declared a national emergency, his administration has already taken actions that amount to such a declaration.

“Nationally, we’ve conserved more land. We’ve moved into rejoining the Paris Climate Accord… [and] we passed a $360 billion climate control facility,” Biden said.

“We’re moving. It is the existential threat to America,” the president added.

When asked to clarify if he has already declared a national emergency on climate change, Biden declared, “Practically speaking, yes.”

During his interview with The Weather Channel, a subsidiary of Allen Media Group, which owns theGrio, Biden also defended his climate record against activists.

When asked by Abrams if he broke his promise to Gen-Z activists on the frontlines of the climate justice movement for approving thousands of permits for federal land and offshore oil drilling, Biden argued his hands are tied by the court system.

“I wanted to stop all drilling in the East Coast and the West Coast and in the Gulf, but lost in court,” explained the president. He added, “The court said I couldn’t do it.” 

During an October 2021 rally outside the White House, demonstrators prepare to be arrested as part of the ‘Climate Chaos Is Happening Now’ protest. Activists have been demanding that President Joe Biden declare a climate emergency. He said this week that he practically has.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A Louisiana judge last year ruled that the Biden administration could not unilaterally pause leasing for oil and gas drilling in 13 states after a legal challenge was brought to Biden’s executive order instructing the Department of Interior to halt all oil drilling activities pending a comprehensive review of the federal leasing program.

Despite the legal barrier, Biden pointed to the $250 billion investment in alternative clean energy by the private sector as a silver lining in the climate movement. 

“They’re building solar facilities. They’re building new … electrolyzers to take hydrogen and turn it. I mean, there’s so much going on,” he said. 

Biden also lamented that world powers Russia and China are being “difficult partners” in the global fight to reduce emissions and reach net zero by 2030. Still, he expressed optimism that the United States and its allies can transform the world into a thriving green economy. 

“My mom used to say, out of everything bad, something good will come if you look hard enough,” said the president. “There’s an enormous opportunity. We’re growing the economy.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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