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Environmental activists call on President Biden to declare a climate emergency

Hundreds of San Diegans passionate about environmental justice joined thousands of others nationwide Saturday to call on the White House to take action.

SAN DIEGO — Saturday marked a 'national day of action' calling for environmental justice. 

Thousands of demonstrators throughout the country, including here at home, came together to call on the White House to make a change in the future of our climate and our communities.

Hundreds of San Diegans passionate about environmental justice turned out Saturday afternoon in front of the Federal Building downtown

They joined dozens of similar rallies held throughout the country with a unified message for President Biden to declare a climate emergency.

If President Biden were to declare such an emergency officially, climate justice activists said that this would allow him to tap into his full executive powers to take faster and bolder action, especially regarding ending fossil fuel extraction.

"We have the plans, the ideas, the solutions, but we do not have the power," said Donovan Wilcox, a youth activist in Sunrise San Diego. "There is one individual who does have the power, and that is President Joe Biden!"

"Make no mistake: this environmental justice fight is a fight for our lives," added Yusef Miller of the Interfaith Coalition for Earth Justice.

These activists say that Biden could use his power as president. Even in the face of a divided Congress to stop the approval of new fossil fuel leases, reinstate a ban on crude oil and gas exports, and stop foreign fossil fuel investment.

Local leaders pointed out that San Diego is making progress in achieving its climate action plan, including a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, as well as the adoption of San Diego Community Power by five cities county-wide, providing access to clean, renewable energy.

"They said it was crazy; they said it was audacious. We made it happen!" said San Diego City Councilmember Joe LaCava.

These demonstrators are also demanding that the federal government focus on investing in communities. Especially the ones most negatively impacted by the climate crisis are disproportionately lower-income, minority neighborhoods. 

"While such action is essential at the local level to protect and empower front-line communities, we know that we need to see national action at the scale of the crisis," said San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera. 

According to local activists, it is a crisis that will impact the youngest generations the most.

"This is an issue our youth will take up," Miller added. "When we are done, they will continue the fight, and then their kids will continue the fight."

For more information on San Diego 350, click here. 

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