Green New Deal: What is it and what does it mean for climate change?

Supporters of then-Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed select committee on a "Green New Deal" rally outside the office of Democratic congressman from Maryland and then-House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C., December 10, 2018.

Supporters of then-Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed select committee on a “Green New Deal” rally outside the office of Democratic congressman from Maryland and then-House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C., December 10, 2018. (Photo: JIM LO SCALZO, EPA-EFE)

The Earth is facing a climate change deadline, with a looming tipping point into a dramatically changed, less hospitable planet – and Democratic lawmakers are beginning what’s likely to be a long discussion over how best to deal with it.

These first attempts have coalesced under the umbrella phrase “Green New Deal,” championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. A “Dear Colleague” letter from her office circulating in Congress this week includes calls for the United States within 10 years to shift to energy systems that are “net-zero” when it comes to greenhouses gases. It also insists the transition be “fair and just to all communities and workers.”

Ocasio-Cortez first outlined her environmental plan in December and now she and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who led House efforts on climate change a decade ago, are working on a revision to present to lawmakers for action. It’s expected to be released within days.

Requests for comment were not returned by either office. But the letter they issued to other lawmakers calls for a plan “that takes on a series of industrial and infrastructure projects that will transform every sector of our economy and society (while ensuring) justice and economic security … for all.”

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