President Biden is planning to travel to Massachusetts on Wednesday to talk about his climate change strategy but will stop short of issuing an emergency declaration to would unlock federal assistance to deal with the issue.

The president has been under pressure to issue an emergency declaration after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia pulled out of negotiations over sprawling spending plans to address global warming. During his visit to Somerset, Mass., Biden could announce other steps on climate change but the White House has not released details.

As punishing heat dominates most of the U.S. and Europe, Biden will “aggressively fight to attack climate change,” Jared Bernstein, a top White House economic adviser, told reporters.

“There is a lot he can do, and there is a lot he will do,” Bernstein said.

A declaration of a climate emergency would allow Biden to redirect spending to accelerate renewable energy such as wind and solar power and speed the nation’s transition away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The declaration also could be used as a legal basis to block oil and gas drilling or other projects, although such actions would likely be challenged in court by energy companies or Republican-led states.

“I think given the global crisis that we’re facing, given the inability of Congress to address this existential threat, I think the White House has got to use all of the resources and tools that they can,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). On a climate emergency, “that’s something that I’ve called for, a long time ago.”

The need for action has rarely been more clear than seeing temperatures soar into the triple digits across western Europe all week long.

The typically temperate nation was just the latest to be walloped by unusually hot, dry weather that has triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths. Images of flames racing toward a French beach and Britons sweltering — even at the seaside — have driven home concerns about climate change.

The U.K. Met Office registered a provisional reading of 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit at Heathrow Airport in early afternoon — breaking the record set just an hour earlier and with hours of intense sunshine still to go. Before Tuesday, the highest temperature recorded in Britain was 101.7, set in 2019.

In many parts of the American Midwest and Texas, July could be the hottest month in history with no relief in sight.

Biden had hoped to finally declare a modest victory in the climate change fight by reaching a spending deal with fellow Democrats that would have devoted billions to environmental action.

Even as Democrats and environmental groups pushed Biden to act on his own, some legal scholars questioned whether an emergency declaration on climate change is justified.

“Emergency powers are designed for events such as terrorist attacks, epidemics and natural disasters,’’ said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Such powers “aren’t intended to address persistent problems, no matter how dire. And they aren’t meant to be an end-run around Congress,’’ Goitein wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post last year.

With News Wire Services

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