Three months after President Joe Biden pledged America’s return to the fight against global warming at the COP26 summit, young American and foreign activists who attended the international rally are frustrated with the lack of action in Washington .

“It’s a real betrayal of a representative’s duty to serve not just voters, but the betterment of humanity,” said Jes Vesconte, an Ohio native and Fulbright scholar who now lives in Germany.

Vesconte was one of three young climate advocates NY1 Spectrum News registered in January, having first interviewed them on the ground in Scotland in November.

Speaking at the climate summit last fall, Biden vowed to go big, highlighting the more than $500 billion in climate investments included in his Build Back Better program.

“Will we do what is necessary? Will we be able to seize the enormous opportunity that is offered to us? Biden said at the summit, issuing a challenge to his fellow leaders.

However, Biden’s spending plan — critical to the administration’s promise to drastically reduce U.S. carbon emissions — stalled in the Senate.

Lily Aaron, a high school student from suburban Chicago who is part of It’s Our Future, calls the Senate roadblocks “depressing” but says she expected no less.

“I don’t believe we’ve taken the leadership position that Biden promised, or the one he said in his speech that we hold, especially with the responsibility we have as the world’s largest economy and second biggest emitter,” she said.

The Biden White House points to administrative steps it has taken over the past year, including efforts to create offshore wind farms.

However, some White House actions have come under criticism, including a major auction of Gulf of Mexico waters for oil drilling.

As for that half-trillion-dollar climate investment push, as recently as mid-January, Biden expressed some optimism that it could still be done.

“I think it’s clear that we would be able to get support for the more than $500 billion for the energy and environmental issues that are out there,” he told a news conference on Monday. January 19.

However, it remains to be seen whether the spending plan will have a second life in an evenly divided Senate, where Democrats cannot afford a single defection. It’s just one of many items on Congress’ to-do list, from funding the government to approving a new Supreme Court justice.

Absent this new spending, some like Vesconte want Biden to be more aggressive in executive climate action, testing the limits of his power.

At the COP26 summit, Vesconte wore an eye-catching shirt, urging Biden to declare a “climate emergency now.”

“He still has time to act, doesn’t he? I wish he would prove me wrong,” they said.

Šimon Michalčík, who heads the Czech branch of environmental group Plant-for-the-Planet, is skeptical. His group aims to plant a trillion trees to buy the world time to reduce emissions.

Michalčík says he would not put too much hope in the federal government, even as the need to act decisively grows.

“It seems like an easy decision to me. So, I think it should seem like an easy decision to them. If they just read a little about what’s going on,” he said.

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