The Green New Deal Likely Won't Pass — Here's Why It's Still Important
After months of campaigning, a group of Democrats unveiled their ambitious “Green New Deal” on Thursday, according to the New York Times.
The 14-page resolution outlines a way for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2030, a shift that would turn the country into a global leader on action against climate change. It calls for aggressive investments in technology, infrastructure, and climate resilience measures.
The proposal was released on the same day that NASA reported that the last five years were the hottest period in recorded history.
In its current form, the resolution has little chance of being brought to a vote in the House of Representatives, according to the Times. However, the proposal does give substance to what was previously just an idea, and could galvanize action on climate change in the months and years ahead.
The Green New Deal was co-sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-MA.
“Climate change and our environmental challenges are the biggest existential threats to our way of life,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday. “We must be as ambitious and innovative in our solutions as possible.”
The Green New Deal covers a lot of ground. The proposal goes beyond environmental issues and includes policies aimed at ending poverty and promoting justice.
The bulk of the policy package focuses on investing in wind, solar, and other renewable sources of energy and making the country’s infrastructure more energy efficient. Under the plan, every building in the country would be modernized with energy saving capabilities by 2030, agriculture would be made more sustainable, and high-speed rail options would be made efficient enough to make domestic air travel, which produces huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, unnecessary.
The resolution also calls for assistance for communities most affected by environmental changes such as sea-level rise. By the end of the century, 2 billion people around the world could be displaced by rising sea levels and other environmental changes.
Ocasio-Cortez and other Green New Deal supporters say that these investments will create millions of new jobs, improve health outcomes, and reduce waste, according to CNN.
Although the proposal is highly ambitious, it fails to describe how these efforts will be paid for and does not detail how widespread fossil fuel use would be phased out.
"The question isn't how will we pay for it, but what is the cost of inaction, and what will we do with our new shared prosperity created by the investments in the Green New Deal," a fact sheet accompanying the resolution says.
Waking up to great news: @AOC + @SenMarkey's #GreenNewDeal resolution has 3 more co-sponsors!@RepMaxineWaters@ChrisMurphyCT@amyklobuchar— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) February 8, 2019
Thank you all for standing with us & fighting for a livable future
Ask ur Rep to sign on: https://t.co/QwyHB0bu1upic.twitter.com/NAyWQDkF5o
Over the past few months, Ocasio-Cortez has popularized the Green New Deal, describing the proposal as way to build upon the legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal that vastly expanded the social safety net in the US.
.@AOC unveils #GreenNewDeal: "Today is also the day that we choose to assert ourselves as a global leader in transitioning to 100% renewable energy and charting that path... We should do it because we are an example to the world." https://t.co/2wVPSEx6SKpic.twitter.com/a6AG8TWtPK— The Hill (@thehill) February 7, 2019
The Green New Deal also includes a bucket list of other progressive priorities, including universal health care, affordable housing, union protections, and the breaking up of monopolies.
While it may takes years for the proposal to become a viable legislative option, the speed at which the resolution has been introduced shows how successful activists have been at pushing forward the issue of climate change.
Even if action at the federal level takes some time to materialize, cities and states are beginning to ramp up their investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and more.
Currently, 19 states — which account for half of the country’s population and a third of its greenhouse gas emissions — have pledged to uphold the US’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement, despite the fact the President Trump withdrew the country from the agreement in 2017.