Written by: Natalia Brown
It’s no question that buzz about a Green New Deal has been circulating — especially in this last year since the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published their Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C. The comprehensive changes required to keep global warming below the IPCC’s threshold of 1.5°C are unprecedented in the history of environmental or economic policy. Some argue that this wake-up call-to-action has emboldened global climate ambition and invigorated 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 the global economy through the proliferation of “green” technologies. This was viewed in stark contrast to those supporting the surge of information technology in the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries.
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 intended 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 referring to Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution. This bill calls for a 10-year mobilization for economic and environmental justice through climate policy. Although the concept of a Green New Deal and the threats posed by climate change have been known by scientists, politicians, and the general public for years, this is the most detailed policy proposal presented thus far.
The Green New Deal resolution was largely motivated by the insights published in the IPCC 2018 Special Report. It highlights the United States’ historic responsibility for a disproportionate amount of global greenhouse gas emissions and calls for intervention that remedies enduring legacies of injustice.
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.
Some argue that 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 set an strong precedent for other countries to draw lessons from.
The initiatives included in this mobilization are intended to combat the historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities by increasing nation-wide access to family-sustaining jobs, 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. 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 public support surrounding the Green New Deal today. Generating the results supported by this resolution will require unprecedented policy engineering and 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 best way avoid the bias of media misinformation and develop your own 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 Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez breakdown her motives for 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 justice, 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 effective and beneficial for all people and places.
- 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.” You can also 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 Ocasio-Cortez attended a Sunrise sit-in at (now Speaker of the House of Representatives) Nancy Pelosi’s office. Activists were occupying the office to call for the formation of a Congressional climate committee. Since then, this organization has organized town halls, sit-ins, student strikes, protests, and confronted political leaders across the aisle about their stance on climate issues. Their direct action and digital organizing campaigns have helped make climate change a central issue in the 2020 Democratic primary.
- Joining the climate movement through a local Sunrise Movement Hub is an excellent way to advance political support for the Green New Deal. But, it’s not the only option! There are many other pathways to build support for just climate action through grassroots organizations or your existing relationships. Bringing in your peers, colleagues, family, and friends to have conversations about economic and environmental justice can inspire their support for a Green New Deal.
- Local coalitions in California, Illinois, and Pittsburgh are already seeing positive results from state-level Green New Deal policies! Learn more here.
CAST YOUR VOTE
- Before you hit the polls for the 2020 election cycle, check your registration status here.
- Find out what bills 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 streamlined 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.