This Is Code Red Biden Views Flood Hit NYC Calls For Action EAST ELMHURST, QUEENS — President Joe Biden warned Americans Tuesday about the “existential threat” of climate change and the need to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure. He was speaking from a Queens block hard hit by last week’s deadly flooding.
“The threat [of climate change] is here, and it’s not going to get any better. The question is if it’s going to get any worse,” said the president, pointing to the wreckage that he saw while walking along Hurricane Ida-ravaged streets in East Elmhurst. Queens saw at least 11 residents — most of whom, as the president acknowledged, lived in low-income communities – killed as the remnants of Ida hit Wednesday.
While Biden promised not to abandon those vulnerable residents — urging New Yorkers affected by the storm to seek federal funding and aid — he said that the climate crisis is a global problem that needs an immediate response.
“This goes so far beyond what anybody’s willing to speak to up until now,” the president said of the dangers of climate change. “We’ve got to move the rest of the world. Not just America,” he added, alluding to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
But there is still action that needs to be taken at home, Biden said, pointing to the importance of investing in climate-resilient infrastructure to prevent future destruction.
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Specifically, the president pushed his infrastructure plans, including a bipartisan $1.2 trillion bill passed by the Senate and his Build Back Better plan, which aims to make bridges, roads and electricity grids able to withstand more severe weather.
“This is code red. The nation and the world are in peril, and that’s not hyperbole,” Biden said.
Queens leaders similarly called for infrastructure investment and a national climate change response at a Thursday news conference in Jamaica, where flooding killed a mother and son the night before.
Some climate activists, however, protested at Tuesday’s news conference, demanding that infrastructure be built back “fossil free” — not just “better.”
While demands for the Green New Deal and fossil divestment were seen at Biden’s stops in New Jersey and New York Tuesday, the message is specifically pertinent in East Elmhurst, a neighborhood that’s in the midst of a debate over a newly proposed fossil fuel plant.
The president concluded his speech with another push for his infrastructure legislation — arguing that green jobs would bolster the economy and save money in the long run — and then turned to a seven-year-old child, listening on from an elevated building.
“The thing about America, every time we end up with a problem, going into a serious circumstance, we come out better than we went in,” he said to the child. “That’s because we’re so diverse. That’s America.”