Calls for climate action grow as heat waves envelop the U.S. and Europe

Heat waves at home and abroad this week are fueling new appeals for action on climate change. President Biden addressed the issue Wednesday, as large swaths of the United States and Europe spent another day in dangerously high temperatures. Geoff Bennett reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Heat waves here in the U.S. and abroad are fueling new appeals tonight for action on climate change. President Biden addressed the issue today, as large swathes of the United States and Europe spent another day on broil.

    Geoff Bennett begins our coverage.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Parts of Europe tonight remain in the grip of a scorching heat wave, bringing with it fires. In Italy, firefighters spent the day battling flames in Tuscany. Hundreds were forced to evacuate, as blazes spread across the border into Slovenia.

    In Greece, authorities were able to control a wildfire sparked outside of Athens, after several residents lost their homes.

  • Ioannis Alvanou, Athens Resident (through translator):

    The entire house burned. Everything was lost, books, C.D.s, piano, clothes, icons, photos, files, everything that a person would have.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Firefighters in Spain and France are still battling wildfires in the south. And temperatures in the U.K. finally fell after breaking records yesterday.

    As Europe's heat wave rages on, oppressive and dangerous heat is spreading across the U.S. More than 100 million Americans in 28 states are now under heat advisories. Texas and Oklahoma saw record temperatures, with heat indexes as high as 115 degrees in some areas and wildfires. Residents in the Central and Northeast parts of the country are bracing for blistering heat this week.

    The heat wave is the latest call to action on climate change, as President Biden today unveiled a new set of executive actions.

  • President Joe Biden:

    As president, I have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger. And that's what climate change is about.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    The new measures boost the domestic offshore wind industry, offer home energy assistance for low-income Americans, and provide funding to protect communities facing extreme heat.

    The rollout follows the failed effort to strike a deal on climate change in Congress, with Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin nixing clean energy initiatives in the party's broader budget bill.

  • President Joe Biden:

    In the coming days, my administration will announce the executive actions we have developed to combat this emergency. We need to act.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    President Biden considering declaring a national climate emergency, but stopping short today, even as many Democrats and climate activists grow frustrated over Washington's inaction.

    Two sources familiar with internal White House discussions say the declaration of a national emergency would likely trigger lawsuits. And any steps to limit oil and gas production under a national emergency could be politically dangerous for the Biden White House, which has been working to lower historically high gas prices.

    The president taking it all into consideration as his administration works to salvage its aggressive climate agenda.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Geoff Bennett.

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