The Green New Deal Explained

Renewable energy is a topic that becomes more relevant every year and the United States’ politicians can no longer ignore the issue in congress. The economic impact of climate change has been projected by some groups to have effects such as billions of dollars of lost coastal properties and the reduction of the global gross domestic product by over 10%. Some members of congress have banded together to provide a solution that responds to the increasing climate crisis by drafting a resolution to create a “Green New Deal”. This “Green New Deal” has become a political battleground as some Democrats endorse the deal and Republicans contest or challenge the “Green New Deal”; However, politicians rarely explain exactly what the deal is and instead use ambiguous strokes for political support. The “Green New Deal” should be understood by all voters so that all United States citizens understand what they are getting into.

The “Green New Deal”(GND) or H.RES.(House Resolution) 109 is a nonbinding resolution that sets to drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions of the US and create a national mobilization of US workers to complete projects. The bill was introduced on February 7th 2019 by the New York Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The GND recognizes the current dangers of global warming, the crises currently faced by the US, and the national threat posed by climate change. The GND also recognizes that there is a historic opportunity to fix these issues with governmental response that is similar or greater than the measures taken during World War 2 and The Great Depression. The response proposed not only provides a large federal response, but also fairly distributes the benefits of such response among communities that need the most aid. This could be the most controversial resolution in recent years due to the mention of the politicized issue of climate change.

The GND starts by recognizing a multitude of issues and threats affecting the United States. Human activity is named as the dominant cause of climate change and the danger of global warming increasing 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels is said to cause multiple negative effects in the future. According to the GND global temperatures must be kept below 1.5 Celsius above preindustrial levels to avoid serious impacts and this will require lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 60% from the levels seen in 2010. Climate change is labelled as a direct threat to the US national security due to effects like decreasing the economic, environmental, and social stability of countries and communities around the world. It is also acknowledged that the US faces wage stagnation, inaccessible basic needs for many Americans, declining life expectancy, low socioeconomic mobility, and the greatest income equality since the 1920s. As a result of the issues recognized by the GND new 10-year national mobilizations and a set of goals are needed as a solution.

The GND states that the government needs to create goals that would benefit all people of the US. The first main goal is for the US is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a transition that does not unfairly burden some communities of workers such as coal miners. The second main goal of the GND is to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and to invest in US infrastructure and industry to sustainably meet 21st century challenges. The third main goal of the GND is to secure clean water and air, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all people in the US. The fourth main goal of the GND is to promote justice and equity by ending historic oppression of “frontline and vulnerable communities” such as the poor, low income workers, migrant communities, and others. The goals of the GND are grand in nature, but there are clauses to make sure that the resolution is not abused by corporations or governments.

The final parts of the GND give the framework a protective layer against abuses from various parties. The development of a GND is said to require transparency and collaboration with the “frontline and vulnerable communities” and any other community affected such as labor unions and worker cooperatives. According to the GND the public should receive a stake in the projects(as opposed to a complete privatization) and adequate resources should be given to local businesses, governments, and other organizations that are implementing GND mobilization. The government would be required to consider complete environmental and social costs of combating emissions. Public investments would have to be made into clean and renewable technology and industries.  Workers affected by the clean energy transition would be ensured high-quality union jobs that guarantee wage and benefit parity. The GND framework attempts to protect vulnerable people from being abused by GND implementations, but the resolution has one minor issue.

The “Green New Deal”(GND) is not the traditional law that most people expect from congress. The GND is a nonbinding resolution which means that it would affirm the house that measures must be taken in the future instead of forcing a response immediately or at all. “10-year national mobilizations” would be used to accomplish the goals set by the nonbinding resolution. The GND currently is more like a loose framework by which legislative action can be accomplished. Congress’ partisan nature means that to fully realize the GND a democratic takeover of both houses will most likely be necessary. The future of the GND will either be bolstered or silenced by the results of the 2020 elections.   


Sources: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data, https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/04/climate-change-could-cost-u-s-economy-billions/, https://www.thebalance.com/economic-impact-of-climate-change-3305682, https://www.npr.org/2019/02/07/691997301/rep-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-releases-green-new-deal-outline, https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text

3 thoughts on “The Green New Deal Explained

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