Written by: Natalia Brown
It’s no question that buzz about a “Green New Deal” has been increasingly circulating; especially in this last year since the release of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The comprehensive climate solutions called for by the IPCC are unparalleled in scope by any collection of policy mechanisms implemented in human history. Arguably, this tremendous wake-up call-to-action effectively emboldened global climate ambition and reinvigorated public attention on the idea of a Green New Deal.
SO, WHAT IS THE GREEN NEW DEAL?
Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and esteemed author, Thomas Friedman was the first to publicly describe the need for such a sustainable transformation. As early as 2007, he championed the concept of a “Green New Deal” that would stimulate renewal of the global economy through the proliferation of “green technologies,” more so than by the surge of information technology in the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries [New York Times].
Fast forward a couple of years, the United Nations Environmental Programme inspired a strong surge in public attention through the proposal of a Global Green New Deal in 2009. The published report outlined domestic and international policy actions projected to advance economic recovery; contribute to poverty eradication; and reduce carbon emissions and ecosystem degradation.
Today, mention of a “Green New Deal” is most often linked to Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution — calling for broader opportunity, equal justice, elevated productivity, and sustainable development to be achieved through a “10-year mobilization.” Although the concept of a Green New Deal and the threat of climate change have been known by scientists, politicians, and the general public for years; this has been the most detailed, transformative plan presented thus far.
The resolution, largely motivated by the insights published in the aforementioned IPCC’s 2018 Special Report, highlights the United States’ responsibility for a disproportionate amount of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and elucidates the inexcusable nature of contributing practices in driving global injustice and inequality.
The resolution offers a framework of goals and projects aimed at achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; creating millions of high-wage jobs; investing in the advancement of infrastructure and industry; combating systemic injustices; and supporting the development of more resilient communities.
Notably, the Green New Deal would be the most ambitious and transformative national project executed since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s original New Deal and World War II economic mobilizations.
The proposed national mobilization represents a historic opportunity for the United States to emerge as a leader in global climate action. Building smart power grids, establishing regulations for existing and newly erected buildings to be upgraded for maximum energy and water efficiency, investing in sustainable agriculture, implementing mechanisms for eradication of atmospheric pollution and hazardous waste as well as the abatement of industrial greenhouse gas emissions would tremendously reduce our national carbon footprint and set an exemplary precedent for other countries to replicate.
In the context of social justice and economic prosperity, the initiatives executed by such a mobilization effort would combat the historic oppression of “frontline and vulnerable communities” by increasing nation-wide access to family-sustaining job opportunities, higher education, high-quality health care, and affordable housing for all Americans.
According to quantitative analysis by researchers at U.C. Berkley and Stanford University, a nation-wide clean energy transformation would not only be “technologically and economically feasible,” but also tremendously beneficial to human health, emissions reductions, and energy costs. Electrifying all industrial sectors and investing in a complete transition to renewable energy sources would reduce fuel costs and stabilize energy prices, reduce power disruption and increase efficiency, decentralize power and increase public access to affordable energy.
Additional studies indicate that the development of renewable power generation and storage capacity infrastructure can significantly contribute to socioeconomic welfare, through job creation, in the long-run. This comprehensive analysis suggests that job losses in the fossil fuel industry and nuclear power sectors would be “more than outweighed by the job creation in renewable power generation and storage sectors; … contributing to around 80% of the jobs created by 2050.”
Despite the unfavorable political climate, there is a great deal of targeted ambition and public support surrounding the Green New Deal today. Generating the results supported by this resolution will require unprecedented policy engineering and objective bipartisan collaboration. As individuals, there are several ways we can engage in advancing this critical process.
- Read the 14-page Green New Deal resolution! This is the most objective way to avoid the bias of media misinformation in developing your understanding of the vision and goals outlined.
- Watch this film, narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, that outlines the history that inspired the Green New Deal and what our country could look like if the goals set out by this resolution were fulfilled.
- Listen to co-author and champion of the Green New Deal, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, breakdown her motives in drafting the Green New Deal and vision of mobilizing the American economy to solve the contemporary issues of climate change and socioeconomic injustice on this episode of “All In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC.
START THE CONVERSATION
- Bringing environmental issues and solutions to the forefront of our understanding of human health, social injustice, and economic inequality is essential to fulfillment of the Green New Deal. Share this blog post or another resource that resonates with you with your family or friends, on social media, or simply bring it up in conversation!
- Even though most of the general public is aware of the threats of the climate crisis, we don’t frequently discuss environmental policy solutions. This is a huge missed opportunity! We need everyone’s unique insights to contribute to making global climate action as effective and beneficial [for us and our planet] as possible.
- Watch this episode of One Small Step by NowThis News featuring Katharine Wilkinson, the senior writer of Project Drawdown. This book has been called “the most comprehensive plan to ever reverse global warming;” check out some of the eye-opening solutions in the book or on their website!
ORGANIZE IN YOUR COMMUNITY
- The Sunrise Movement rose to prominence in November of 2018, after newly elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended a Sunrise sit-in at (now Speaker of the House of Representatives) Nancy Pelosi’s office, calling for the establishment of a committee to draft the Green New Deal. Since then, the group has organized town halls, sit-ins, student strikes, protests, and confrontations with political leaders across the country; arguably contributing to the central role of climate politics in the 2020 Democratic primary.
- Joining a local grassroots movement; whether a hub of the Sunrise movement, a chapter or branch of another environmental policy advocacy group, or a motivated collection of your peers and/or coworkers is an excellent way to express the urgency for a climate mobilization, inform and inspire your community, and call upon action from your local legislators.
- In fact, local coalitions in California, Illinois, and Pittsburg are already generating tangible results in the advance of state-level Green New Deal policies; learn more here.
CAST YOUR VOTE
- Before you hit the polls for the 2020 election cycle; register to vote or check your voter registration status here.
- Find out what issues and candidates will show up on your ballot in advance. With some simple research using online tools like Ballotpedia or Vote411, you can prepare for a more transparent, confident voting experience.
- The Sunrise Movement has released this resource for the public to evaluate the Democratic presidential candidates, their platforms, and their take on a Green New Deal leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election.