The long-awaited Green New Deal was unveiled in Washington on Thursday, laying down a marker for 2020 and beyond.
If you haven’t heard of the Green New Deal, you probably live under a rock. The highly-anticipated policy proposal, spearheaded by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Senator Ed Markey (MA), calls for a World War II-style or Apollo program (pick your historical analogy) mobilization to transition the US economy off of fossil fuels.
The Green New Deal has floated around in the past, particularly during the financial crisis over a decade ago, but was really revived as a major concept by environmental groups and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in recent months. While any legislation cannot pass the current Congress, given Republican control over the Senate and Donald Trump in the White House, it is now very much a litmus test for aspiring Democratic candidates for president in the 2020 election.
As such, its contents are important, given that one of these candidates could occupy the White House in two years.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey finally unveiled a resolution on February 7, sketching out the framework of future legislation. The bill was necessarily done in broad strokes for several reasons. The Democrats have to wait until 2021 at the earliest before trying to pass something. Keeping everyone on board, at this stage, requires some finessing, leaving some difficult decisions for later. And, of course, detailing the nitty gritty of a complete transformation of America’s energy system will take time.
So, what’s in it? The Green New Deal legislation lays out several key principles, calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, the creation of millions of jobs through public investment, an overhaul of US infrastructure, clean air and water, and justice for frontline communities during this transition.
More specifically, it calls for a 10-year program of “national mobilization,” which will achieve 100 percent of US power demand from clean, renewable and zero-emissions energy sources. It calls for building energy efficient, distributed, and “smart” power grids. Existing buildings will see an overhaul while new buildings are intended to achieve “maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability,” and the like. The GND also calls for “massive growth in clean manufacturing.”
“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us, our country, our world,” Ocasio-Cortez said on NPR’s Morning Edition.'
Read more: The ‘shocking details’ of the Green New Deal
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