What is the Green New Deal and how would it benefit society?

This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, along with dozens of co-sponsors, have introduced a vision for the Green New Deal. One Republican called it a “socialist manifesto”. Many environmental advocacy groups have hailed it, but some say it doesn’t go far enough. Others warn that its broad scope and the long list of progressive social programs it endorses could hinder its climate efforts.

So what is the Green New Deal?

The proposal outlines the broad principles of a plan simultaneously to fight inequity and tackle climate change. It does not contain policy details or advocate for specific ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But with a broad brush it aims to make the US carbon-neutral – net zero carbon emissions – in 10 years.

The Green New Deal recognizes that transition would require massive change. It endorses ways of ensuring that vulnerable populations – including the poor, people of color, indigenous populations and communities already facing environmental degradation – take part in the planning process and benefit from the green economy.

Would it end the use of coal, oil and natural gas?

No. But it would aim to offset any remaining greenhouse gas pollution with forests that absorb carbon dioxide, for example. It does not specifically address what role nuclear power or fossil fuels with carbon capture technologies would play. Nuclear power represents half of the carbon-free energy in the US, but it runs on mined uranium. Fossil fuels with carbon capture would still require drilling and cause pollution.

How ambitious is the Green New Deal?

Incredibly ambitious, both on climate change and with its reimagining of society.

Fossil fuels are deeply embedded in the US economy. Of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2016, 28% were from electricity, 28% were from transportation, 22% were from industry, 11% were commercial and residential and 9% were from agriculture. MORE

The Green New Deal Just Speeds Up The Current Green Wave. Case In Point: Solar-Plus-Storage

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, speaks as Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, right, listens during a news conference announcing Green New Deal legislation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. A sweeping package of climate-change measures unveiled Thursday by Ocasio-Cortez drew a tepid response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who didn’t explicitly throw her support behind the measure. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg© 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP

The rollout of the Green New Deal will hit some roadblocks. But its overarching theme is that the nation should go totally green by 2030 to avert the irreversible effects of climate change. It’s the latest volley in the war of energy ideas — one that must ultimately address jobs, the economy and cost.

The Green New Deal is not an “abstract” idea. Globally economies are trending toward cleaner energies — efforts initiated by public demands, improved technologies and forward-thinking policies: The sponsors are compelled to accelerate the pace — to not just help impoverished communities but to also prevent environmental catastrophe.

Think this wild-eyed? Think again. Wind costs have fallen by 67% since 2009 while utility-scale solar has dropped by 86% since that time, according to the financial adviser, Lazard. Prudence has been a virtue. But what green energy skeptics have learned is that the public incentives and the overall economics are adding up — progress that will only go forward, given that prices continue to fall while the quality continues to improve.

Getting to 100% renewable energy levels is a hard task under the best of circumstances. Step one, though, is to bring down the cost of energy storage. Once advanced batteries can be produced in sufficient quantities, the cost of manufacturing them will fall. Prices, in fact, are dropping because companies like Tesla Inc. have been investing billions into production facilities.

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The Green New Deal: What It Does and (Mostly) Doesn’t Do

group of people sitting near round brown wooden tablePhoto: Thomas Drouault/ Unsplash

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Feb 7, 2019, released companion resolutions that provide a framework for prospective legislation on a Green New Deal (GND), an ambitious climate policy.
  • The GND proposals are instructive and can serve as a blueprint for a potential climate and energy package for the next Democratic president to propose to Congress, or to help inform a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
  • This alert details what is and isn’t included in that framework, and provides some thoughts on where a GND goes from here. MORE

RELATED:

A good summary of the Green New Deal proposals: Green New Deal Goes Beyond Green 

Watch this great Green New Deal explainer video from The Leap

You’ve been hearing a lot about the Green New Deal, but you’re wondering what it’s all about? If you want a quick and chatty explainer, check out this video put together by the folks at The Leap, a climate action group.

The Leap Manifesto predates the Green New Deal, but the group has eagerly taken up the mantle. Here’s the central core of the Manifesto:

We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities.

We know that the time for this great transition is short. Climate scientists have told us that this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer get us where we need to go.

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Here’s What a Green New Deal Looks Like in Practice


JARED RODRIGUEZ / TRUTHOUT, TOKARCHUK ANDRII / SHUTTERSTOCK

With the climate change challenge growing more acute with every passing year, the need for the adoption of a new political economy that would tackle effectively both the environmental and the egalitarian concerns of progressive people worldwide grows exponentially. Yet, there is still a lot of disagreement on the left as to the nature of the corresponding political economy model. One segment of the left calls for the complete overthrow of capitalism as a means of dealing with climate change and the growing levels of economic inequality in the era of global neoliberalism, while another one argues against growth in general.

In the interview below, Robert Pollin, distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, explains some issues raised by each of these positions, and how to move toward solutions grounded in a fuller understanding of economic development. MORE

Fossil fuels are bad for your health and harmful in many ways besides climate change

Fossil fuels are bad for your health and harmful in many ways besides climate change

Pumpjacks dot the Kern River oil field outside Bakersfield, Calif. Credit: James William Smith/Shutterstock.com

Many Democratic lawmakers aim to pass a Green New Deal, a package of policies that would mobilize vast amounts of money to create new jobs and address inequality while fighting climate change.

Led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they are calling for massive investments in  and other measures over a decade that would greatly reduce or even end the nation’s overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels.

As experts in environmental geographysociology, and sustainability science and policy, we wholeheartedly support this effort. And, as we explained in a recently published study,  is not the only reason to ditch fossil fuels.

While conducting our research, we constantly encounter new evidence that depending on fossil fuels for energy harms people and communities at every point along fossil fuel supply chains, especially where coal, oil and natural gas are extracted.

The , oil and  industries are also major contributors to human rights violationspublic health disasters and environmental devastation. MORE

Young People Really, Really Want a Green New Deal

New polling data show that millennials are more enthusiastic than older generations about radical efforts to save the planet and create jobs.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outside the Capitol Building.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) talks to reporters outside the Capitol Building. (AP Photo / Susan Walsh)

It’s finally here: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey introduced a Green New Deal resolution on Thursday.

Their proposal would achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by creating millions of green jobs and investing in a new, clean-energy infrastructure. But how receptive will Americans be to such a radical reshaping of the economy?

Our polling shows that the Green New Deal actually polls very well, even when people consider the potential costs. First, in our election survey last fall, we tested a green-job guarantee, which is a core component of the Green New Deal. The resolution released Thursday proposes “guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and disability leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all members of our society.” Mainstream Democratic think tanks have released differing plans on how the government could achieve this goal, though this push has upset some and neoliberals.

We asked voters if they would support “giving every unemployed American who wants one a job building energy-efficient infrastructure.” Sixty percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly support the policy, compared to just 13 percent who somewhat or strongly opposed the policy. (The rest were unsure.)  MORE

 

What the New Green Deal Means for the Food on Your Plate

The long-awaited policy proposal from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey has finally surfaced—and it aims to turn U.S. agriculture into a positive force for climate change and social justice.

Today, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) released their much-anticipated Green New Deal with the goal of creating millions of jobs by expanding renewable energy and de-carbonizing the economy over the next 10 years.

The need for a food-system overhaul also gets a shout-out in the closing line of the resolution, which notes that the projects required by a Green New Deal will include “providing all people of the United States with … access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.”

Agriculture’s presence in the Green New Deal is the result of a palpable urgency that has emerged in food and farming movements to make sure that the effort not only reduces industrial agriculture’s massive carbon emissions, but also transforms a host of environmental problems and inequities embedded in how America’s food is produced.

“The Green New Deal sets a bold vision for dealing with the climate change crisis, which will soon escalate into a full-blown disaster if we don’t make the kinds of changes outlined in this plan. There are many good ideas in this resolution, but this is just the first step in the process,” Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) said in a statement to Civil Eats. “There is a lot of work to be done in the days ahead to iron out the details, like opportunities to work with farmers to trap more carbon in the soil. But I’m confident that we can pass something in the House and send it to the Senate, because the American people have demanded action.” MORE