Republicans warn of hamburger bans as they fixate on the climate plan splitting Democrats
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, has become of the face of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to tackle climate change and reshape the entire U.S. economy. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has dismissed the plan as ‘kooky’ and claims it would ban cows. (Caitlin Ochs, Charles Mostoller/Reuters)
An economic blueprint to save the planet from climate catastrophe. A moonshot mission to shift the U.S. power grid to 100 per cent renewable energy within 10 years. A hippy-dippy socialist plot to seize Americans’ hamburgers.
Opinions and exaggerations abound when it comes to the Green New Deal. Progressives are split over whether to embrace or dismiss the roadmap. Republicans are gleefully seizing on it to paint Democrats as “nutty” idealists, with Senate Republicans looking to force a vote on it to expose cracks within the Democratic caucus.
If you only have a passing familiarity with the Green New Deal’s details, though, count yourself in good company. Not even Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seemed to know what it puts forward.
…The thing is, the Green New Deal is getting attention. Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 are staking positions on it. And at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), in which warnings about socialism emerged as a key theme, the Green New Deal was assailed as an arch-liberal plot.
What does the Green New Deal propose?
Big picture, it aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and wean the U.S. off fossil fuels, though it stops short of calling for the all-out elimination of fossil fuels.
It aims to fix what the text of a 14-page resolution calls “systemic injustices” — deeply entrenched conditions that disproportionately affect low-income communities, people of colour, women, the elderly and people with disabilities.
The economic stimulus plan is co-sponsored by two Democrats: The social media savvy New York congressional freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.
While it would rework the entire U.S. economy to meet the threat of climate change, hammering out the finer points remains a work in progress.
What’s up with the name?
The “green” part of the Green New Deal calls for measures which, according to a since-deleted draft FAQ, might include:
- Converting all of U.S. power demand to renewable energy.
- Investing heavily in programs for clean-energy jobs and technologies.
- Supporting sustainable farming practices to eliminate pollution “as much as is technologically feasible.”
- Upgrading or replacing every building for efficiency.
- Overhauling transportation with high-speed rail to “a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”
- And creating a national “smart” grid that would increase energy efficiency.
The draft overview has broad social justice intentions, hence the “new deal” reference. (That borrows from former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era programs to revive the U.S. economy.)
A Green New Deal would bring universal “high-quality health care” to all Americans. It calls for a guaranteed job “with a family-sustaining wage” to anyone, as well as tuition-free public education. In addition, it would clean up environmentally hazardous areas that have been shown to disproportionately affect communities of colour and low-income families.
Jeremy Ornstein, of Watertown, Mass., centre, cheers on fellow environmental activists as they occupy the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Steny Hoyer, as they try to pressure Democratic support for a sweeping agenda to fight climate change, on Dec. 10, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)
At least six Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 nomination have endorsed it: Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders.
“Not transitioning to a clean energy system is unaffordable and uneconomical.” — Mark Z. Jacobson