From one of the most promising new freshmen congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came in guns blazing from the moment she stepped into office. Coming in as the the youngest female ever elected to the US Congress, she made an impact right from the get-go with her witty ability to utilize social media effectively to get her message out.
The moment she stepped into congress she started her work on legislation to not only create the foundation for fighting climate change but at the same time works to fix the growing wealth gap between the extreme rich and the poor.
This is the legislation now being pegged as the “Green New Deal” which is proposed to be a “New Deal” sized initiative similar to what Roosevelt created after the Great Depression.
Here’s whats in the proposal and why it matters to us.
What does the “Green New Deal” legislation say?
The proposal made lays a very high-level groundwork for what Ocasio-Cortez says needs to be accomplished due to the warning made by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in November 2018 which stated that “human activity is the dominant cause of observed climate change over the past century.” This in turn is “causing sea levels to rise and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure.”
As a whole the deal calls for “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” with the short-term goal of:
- By 2030: “Global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from human sources of 40-60% from 2010 levels by 2030.”
- By 2050: “net-zero global emissions by 2050.”
In addition to the overall goal to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and adopt renewable energies, it calls for the following subsequent goals to improve quality and the health of all Americans:
- Overhaul of the transportation system to reduce emissions with the primary target to expand electric vehicle manufacturing and expanding high-speed rail to the “scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”
- A guaranteed “high-quality health care” for all Americans no matter their income level.
- Building energy-efficient “smart” power grids and upgrade all existing buildings across the country for energy efficiency.
- Working collectively with farm owners to “eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as is technologically feasible” while promoting “universal access to healthy food everywhere.”
This entire deal is prefaced with the understanding that a major factor in presenting this deal is due to the “4-decade trend of wage stagnation, deindustrialization, and anti-labor policies” that have been growing. These in turn have led to many results including erosion of workers rights and the greatest income inequality since the 1920s whereas the “top 1 percent of earners accruing 91 percent of gains.”
The above quotes are taken from the proposed resolution which you can find the full text of the legislation in a PDF form here.
So are the ideas presented feasible?
So those were the broad goals of the Green New Deal, but how feasible really is this and is it truly necessary? The IPCC was put made up of people from over 130 countries, took over 6 years to produce, included more than 2,500 scientific expert reviewers with more than 800 contributing authors.
So basically – this wasn’t some crack job report – and we’ve seen the real-world impacts over recent years of the impacts happening before our own eyes. The IPCC has said that if aggressive action does not happen within the next 10 years, the results could be irreversible leading to permanent environmental damage that will affect millions of people.
Even with Cortez’s aggressive goals, it is likely to be an unreachable goal and most say that it’s a too late even if we hit those goals as it is. Additionally, the enormous challenge of achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 means we would need to remove all combustible engines from the roads and expand high-speed rail to eliminate air-travel which is nothing short of a “transportation revolution”.
Humans are not prone to change quickly – and with the aggressive denial of climate change by the extreme right – it is unlikely that the action needed to curb global warming will happen before it’s too late.
On a good note, the work that Ocasio-Cortez is doing will begin to lay the framework for future administrations to pick up and we will see the slow adoption of this well after the targeted dates set.
Is the Green New Deal a new idea?
While the concept of the Green New Deal is definitely not a new idea, it is only beginning to gain steam in this current session of congress due to the scientific facts presented by the IPCC and the new freshmen class of Democrats who’s constituents are pushing this as a primary concern that needs urgent action.
The foundation of the Green New Deal started to gain traction in 2007 in a column in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman where he promoted the necessary investments in energy needed to slow climate change. It also then was tossed around by Obama back in the 2009 stimulus which had almost $90 billion in environmental initiatives.
It wasn’t until the 2016 election that it really achieved broad acceptance and popularity as the destructive environmental effects started to be noticed. The latest resolution proposed is a product of the progressive activist community whereas Ocasio-Cortez has been the primary promoter and has argued the necessity of the deal in Congress.
While the Green New Deal will not pass and even if so it is not a binding deal, this will set the foundation for discussion for the future 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
All it takes is one outspoken loud voice that stands out from the rest to get the fire started.
I’ll be the first to say “Thank you AOC” for standing up and fighting for the future of the children who bear the brunt of the effect of this current generation!