On February 7, House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) released an official resolution for the highly debated “Green New Deal.” The resolution provides further information on the broad goals of the original proposal, however it remains abstract and nonbinding — and that is only if the House votes to approve it. The resolution delivers a more tangible framework upon which Ocasio-Cortez and her team plan to push for co-sponsors and move the resolution to the House and Senate floors.
The summary report indicates that legislators would begin to assemble the “nuts and bolts” of the plan by drafting specific Green New Deal bills. The document specifies five ambitious goals to be completed in 10 years, reduced from the proposal’s original seven goals.
1. Ensure net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers
2. Create millions of high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all
3. Invest in infrastructure and industry to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century
4. Guarantee clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment for all
5. Promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future and repairing historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities
While the resolution focuses on an equitable transfer to renewable energy and a reduction in carbon emissions, the Green New Deal is an all-inclusive economic overhaul that also promises broad access to jobs, fair wages and healthcare.
NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben breaks down some of the notable and far-reaching objectives that fall under the above-mentioned goals, including:
• Attaining 100 percent renewable energy by 2020, including transferring away from nuclear energy
• Upgrading “all existing buildings to energy-efficient”
• Incentivizing farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
• Investing in the electric car industry and expanding high speed rails to compete with and eventually stamp out the airline industry
• Guaranteeing jobs with adequate wages and comprehensive benefits for all Americans
• Ensuring “high-quality healthcare” for all Americans
The resolution continued to be revised after it was released, with many media outlets updating their published stories throughout the day.
Ocasio-Cortez from the House is also joined by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), who is working to garner support in the Senate.
Related: Is the Green New Deal the all-inclusive climate plan we need?
Though the document’s summary cites that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support the Green New Deal, the controversial responses do not seem to support this claim. In fact, the current co-sponsors, published by Axios, include “Reps. Brendan Boyle (Pa.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.),” all of whom say their support is pending final language.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has been called out for her lack of support for the Green New Deal. On Wednesday, she was quoted in Politico saying: “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”
In addition to politicians on both sides of the aisle, journalists and climate experts argue the Green New Deal is wildly ambitious. Environmental Fellow Jesse Jenkins, interviewed by NPR, contends that reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 is already a major challenge, so reaching zero-emissions by 2030 — as the resolution mandates — will be next to impossible.
However, Ocasio-Cortez told NPR’s Morning Edition, “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.”
Political activists across the country — largely led by a youth organization called the Sunrise Movement — are showing up at congressional offices to pressure their representatives to come out in support of the Green New Deal by the end of February. Even if the resolution does not pass, which many believe will be the outcome, the activists hope that the mounting attention will make climate change a key issue — if not the most central issue — in the upcoming 2020 presidential race.
The resolution explains that the U.S. contributes an alarming 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions and is in the position to become a leader in drastic green economy development. Despite the Trump administration’s recent break from global climate commitments, statistics show that the U.S. has already made the most significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since 2000. Though the data indicates the U.S. has only made an 8 percent reduction, given that the U.S.’s total contribution to pollution is among the highest, this 8 percent reduction equates to 760 million metric tons, nearly as much as the sum of the European Union’s reductions.
Though significant, this accomplishment still does not change Americans’ title as the world’s largest polluters per-capita. The U.S. indeed has the numbers to make a difference; what it needs now is for these types of policies to have the support that this vision could be our reality.