A resolution drafted by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) advocating for a Green New Deal was introduced in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) this week. Yay! Ta dah! Finally, we have politicians who are stepping up to their responsibility to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and to invest in clean, sustainable energy. It’s been decades of Congressional looking the other way, inaction that’s failed to address the in-your-face reality of greenhouse gas emissions, and an inability to reconcile the trumpet calls from alarmed scientists into legislation.
Of course, the Green New Deal naysayers are rampant, and, to those in politics and the press who say the Green New Deal cannot be done, I say, Shame on you. Where is your vision? How can you deride a plan at its earliest stages that seeks to stall our global environmental existential crisis? Markey and Ocasio-Cortez represent the veteran and the newcomer, the realistic and the idealistic — moving together toward a common goal to address climate change, and they’re pulling out their political gravitas to do what makes other politicians tremble.
The Green New Deal, if enacted, would achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers. It would create millions of good high-wage job that ensure the prosperity and economic security for US people, invest in the US infrastructure and industry to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century, and promote justice and equity.
“We must be as ambitious and innovative in our solution as possible,” Ocasio-Cortez declared during a press conference unveiling the Green New Deal resolution. “We’re here to say that small, incremental policy solutions are not enough. There is no justice and there is no combating climate change without addressing what has happened to indigenous communities. That means that there is no fixing our economy without addressing the racial wealth gap. That means that we are not going to transition to renewable energies without also transitioning frontline communities and coal communities into economic opportunity as well.”
“That is what this is about: It is comprehensive, it is thoughtful, it is compassionate, and it is extremely economically strategic.”
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Markey and Ocasio-Cortez Do What the #FakePresident and the Trembling Republicans Won’t
No, our #fakepresident didn’t mention climate change in his State of the Union address, but why would we expect anything else? His vantage point is a tunnel vision that uses the highest elected US office for personal gain. He is about The Donald, not the US people.
A public works bill aimed at employing Americans and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the face of climate change, the Green New Deal is more ambitious than the Clean Power Plan proposed by former President Barack Obama to impose emissions limits on coal-fired power plants. Trump, who has expressed doubts about climate change, scrapped Obama’s plan as a job killer.
Of course, to embrace the Green New Deal resolution is to reject the billionaire fossil fuel industry. It’s past time for our politicians and political candidates to reject support from the fossil fuel industry and protect the health of our families, our climate, and our democracy by signing the No Fossil Fuels Pledge.
The resolution is quite ambitious, so much so that Republicans greeted it with ridicule. The Republican National Committee derided it as “a socialist wish list.” Some Republicans predict it would cost in the trillions of dollars. GOP lawmakers denounced the plan as a radical proposal that would drive the economy off a cliff and lead to a huge tax increase. Fake versions of the Green New Deal resolution are even floating around the internet.
There are multiple doctored GND resolutions and FAQs floating around. There was also a draft version that got uploaded + taken down. There’s also draft versions floating out there.
Point is, the real one is our submitted resolution, H.Res. 109: https://t.co/ZlgWmNQn57
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 9, 2019
“The Green New Deal is a raw deal for the American taxpayer,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He called the plan “a socialist manifesto that lays out a laundry list of government giveaways, including guaranteed food, housing, college, and economic security even for those who refuse to work.”
Really? Those socialists are interested in making sure that no one in the US goes hungry, that everyone has shelter, that even those born without a silver spoon in their mouths can gain academic capital, and that workers dispossessed by a dirty energy industry can make a living. Despicable, right?
But, wait. Didn’t Trump win over impotent white males in the election who were jobless and hopeless but found voice through capitalist social media? A study out of Drexel University explained that declining health and rising death rates in rural Republican bastions helped tilt the presidential election toward Trump. “We believe that counties where mortality has been increasing in the last decade have seen higher degrees of social disruption — such as changes in employment availability, health care accessibility and/or poverty levels — leading to changes in voting patterns,” the lead researcher said.
Sen. Barrasso and other Republicans are suddenly short-sighted, no longer wanting to reach out to use the power of government to help the very people who elected them to live better… hmmm… The word “socialism” brings shivers to many conservatives.
The Democrats’ “Green New Deal” brings to mind an insight from Churchill: Socialism may begin with the best of intentions, but it always ends with the Gestapo.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) February 8, 2019
CNN anchor and correspondent Bill Weir noted that Cotton had some “Missing context, Senator: Churchill gave the infamous ‘Gestapo Speech’ while running against Labor in ’45.” Weir notes that “he got crushed and despite his warnings, the left gave Britain the National Health Service.”
Even that bastion of liberal ideology, the New York Times published an op-ed piece that called Ocasio-Cortez “future dictator-for-life of the Americas.” Talk about fear mongering…
All Those in Favor? Who’ll Step Up?
Answering critics who call the plan unrealistic, Ocasio-Cortez said that, when President John F. Kennedy wanted to go to the moon by the end of the 1960s, “people said it was impossible.” She compared the plan to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.
“I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals” to address climate change, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, adding that she also wants to hear from a new House committee on climate change. Pelosi said the panel will “spearhead Democrats’ work” on climate issues.
Insisting that Democrats were unified, Markey and Ocasio-Cortez praised Pelosi as a “leader” on climate change, and Ocasio-Cortez denied that she felt slighted by Pelosi’s description of the Green New Deal recently as the “green dream, or whatever they call it.”
“I think it is a green dream,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez affirmed. “I will not allow our caucus to be divided by whatever narrative.”
Markey predicted more Democrats would sign on as the plan gets better known and said some Republicans may back it. Ocasio-Cortez said Pelosi invited her to join the climate panel but she declined, saying she wants to focus on the Green New Deal and other committee assignments.
The Climate Mobilization (TCM) has recognized the Green New Deal resolution as the most realistic and important statement to date by national leaders in the US regarding the severity of the Climate Emergency and the opportunity to address this crisis through an economic and social mobilization — at a scale and speed not seen since World War II. They say that the rapid and just transformation of the physical economy and society at large, delivering an integrated package of solutions for a regenerative, zero emissions and safe-climate economy, is necessary for climate mobilization.
“Senator Markey and Representative Ocasio-Cortez are telling the truth about what it will actually take to prevent climate catastrophe—a WWII-scale Climate Mobilization that eliminates greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years and draws down excess GHGs from the atmosphere,” Margaret Klein Salamon, The Climate Mobilization Executive Director, said.
More than 80% of registered voters supported the concept of a Green New Deal in a December poll by Yale and George Mason universities.
At least six senators running for president or considering White House bids backed the Green New Deal: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. The bill comes as a signal that climate change action will be a central campaign issue in 2020.
“This is now a voting issue across the country,” Markey said. “The green generation has risen up and they are saying they want this issue solved” as one of the top two or three issues in the 2020 election.
A coalition of labor, economic justice, racial justice, indigenous, and environmental organizations immediately announced their support.
Ocasio-Cortez said the plan’s scope was its strength, saying “small, incremental policy solutions are not enough” to repel climate change, which she called an “existential threat” to the planet. Far from overreach, the plan addresses a sense of growing frustration by young people and others who “don’t feel we’re being ambitious enough” to address a potentially cataclysmic danger, she said.
Asked how the plan would be paid for, Ocasio-Cortez said it would be “the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich, and decades of war — with public money appropriated by Congress.” She called the plan an “investment” that would produce more than it costs in new infrastructure, jobs and avoided health care costs.
The editorial board of Bloomberg points out how Democrats allude to the first New Deal “to convey urgency, ambition, commitment to social justice, and breadth of policy, except this time with the need to address climate change as an organizing principle.” They agree that this strategy “is admirable and inspiring, and most Americans seem to get it: Polls say they like the idea.”
The Language of the Resolution
“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” Ocasio-Cortez told NPR on February 7. “It could be part of a larger solution, but no one has actually scoped out what that larger solution would entail. And so that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish with the Green New Deal.”
The resolution begins by “recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” “Duty” is the key word that is missing from much of the discourse around climate change these days. The House bill opens by citing 2 recent climate change reports: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the 4th National Climate Assessment. Both reports held back no proverbial punches: humans have caused climate change, and we humans need change our evil ways if climate change is to be stalled.
The non-binding resolution doesn’t create any new programs in and of itself. It is a beginning place, a way to signal that a Green New Deal must take shape and that Congress is committed to outlining a series of strategic measures in the coming years that will enact the broad strokes of the resolution. The resolution urges elimination of fossil fuels pollution and greenhouse gas emissions “as much as technologically feasible” in a range of economic sectors and calls for upgrading all existing buildings in the US to be energy-efficient.
The bill lists consequences of climate inaction: $500 billion in lost annual economic output for the US by 2100, mass migration, bigger and more ferocious wildfires, and risk of more than $1 trillion in damage to US infrastructure and coastal property. To stop this, the bill says that global greenhouse gas emissions from human sources must be reduced by 40 to 60% from 2010 levels by 2030, and we must reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Markey said the resolution is purposefully “silent on individual technologies.”
This massive policy package would remake the US economy and attempt to eliminate all US carbon emissions The sweeping plan intends to transform the US economy to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.
“Let’s celebrate the fact that—thanks to the Sunrise Movement, AOC, Sen. Markey, and many others—there’s now climate legislation in Congress that actually addresses our greatest crisis at its actual scale,” stated Bill McKibben of 350.org.
Images retrieved from Twitter.