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“Step Up or Step Aside.”
The sign was one of hundreds from last month’s demonstrations in Washington, D.C., calling for a Green New Deal by the Sunrise Movement, a group of young people working to stop climate change and create green jobs. They’re fed up with inaction and worried about climate’s costs. As chairman of the Global Carbon Project, a non-partisan group of hundreds of scientists documenting greenhouse gas emissions, I agree.
Hearing talk of a Green New Deal, I feel excitement and, perhaps surprisingly, dread. Done well, a Green New Deal will repair the climate, make our businesses more competitive, and put far more people to work in green jobs, including wind and solar, than we’re losing in brown jobs, like coal mining.
Let’s start with economic reasons for a Green New Deal. The global economy is creating half a million new jobs yearly in renewable energy and employs more than ten million people. In the U.S. we’ve created a hundred thousand new solar and wind jobs annually, 12 times faster than in the rest of the economy. Green energy is putting people to work. MORE
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Sunrise Movement and other outspoken supporters want to avoid what they see as a fatal misstep of past climate efforts: setting the bar too low.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was being sworn in on Jan. 3 with the new Congress, has led the push for a Green New Deal along with the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activist movement that formed shortly after Donald Trump’s election. Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
The idea that climate action must be bound up in the drive for economic justice is at least as old as the pledges nations made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. But young U.S. activists have supercharged that concept in the campaign for a Green New Deal, hoping to blow past political barriers that have thwarted more timid proposals of the past.
“This is going to be the Great Society, the moon shot, the Civil Rights Movement of our generation,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the 29-year-old freshman lawmaker who has helped force the Green New Deal into the political spotlight. MORE
During the holiday season, people often drink toasts to health. There’s something more we can do to ensure that we and others will enjoy good health now and into the future: combat climate change.
“Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, and tackling it could be our greatest health opportunity,” according to the medical journal The Lancet.
Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century
The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, by 150 experts from 27 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, is blunt: “A rapidly changing climate has dire implications for every aspect of human life, exposing vulnerable populations to extremes of weather, altering patterns of infectious disease, and compromising food security, safe drinking water and clean air.” MORE