On Friday, January 7th, local residents called on President Biden and Governor Polis to declare an immediate climate emergency, citing a “Code Red” situation as a result of the Marshall Fire and urging “bold climate leadership to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.” The group, which included those impacted by fire damage as well as Colorado’s 2013 flood, received a wave from the President as his motorcade passed while they held banners highlighting the climate emergency and calling for bold climate leadership. 

“I wanted to send a message to President Biden today, reminding him that if we continue burning fossil fuels there will be more victims of the climate crisis,” said Evan Freirich, a Boulder County resident who was holding one of the banners today as the President’s motorcade passed. “This is a code red climate emergency.” 

President Biden, who was in Boulder County to assess the damage from the Marshall Fire and discuss relief efforts, has declared the Marshall Fire a “major disaster” and ordered Federal Aid to supplement recovery efforts.

“Let’s call the most destructive fire in Colorado history what it is: a climate catastrophe,” said Deborah McNamara, Campaign Director for 350 Colorado, a local nonprofit focused on solving the climate crisis. “Thousands were urgently evacuated and hundreds lost their homes as high winds, severe record drought, high temperatures and unusually dry conditions started the late December grass fires in Boulder County. Many are surprised that this could happen, but those of us tracking the climate crisis know that this type of fire event is exactly what has been predicted by climate scientists for years.” 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent August 2021 assessment, there is “high confidence” that human-influenced rising temperatures are a direct cause of the extension of the wildfire season, increased drought, and decreased precipitation in the southwest United States. 

“These fires set a terrifying precedent for what is to come if we do not rapidly curb our dependence on fossil fuels, yet our elected leaders continue to promote oil and gas expansion,” says Giselle Herzfeld, 350 Colorado Boulder County Local Team Coordinator. “In his time as Governor, Polis has approved over 4000 fracking permits and killed a Senate bill that would have adopted measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration refused to revoke permits for the Line 3 pipeline that now transports 760,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil through Anishinaabe territory, and auctioned off 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore drilling in the days following Glasgow Climate Talks.”

The group urges President Biden and Governor Polis to declare a climate emergency, citing the millions of Coloradans that have already been impacted by climate change through increased wildfires, drought conditions, and worsening air quality. A coalition of organizations representing tens of thousands of Coloradans is calling on Governor Polis to declare a climate emergency and set Colorado on a path for a just transition away from fossil fuels, beginning by phasing out fossil fuel production by 2030 and closing all coal-fired power plants by 2025. 

Hundreds of people plan to rally at the State Capitol next Thursday during Governor Polis’ State of the State Address to call for a Climate Emergency declaration and a rapid transition off fossil fuels, which scientists say is necessary to prevent global temperatures from exceeding the 1.5℃ goal in the Paris Climate Agreement. 

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