In mid-November, some 200 young climate activists from the Sunrise movement joined Representative-elect, the New York Democrat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in a sit in at the office of the House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, demanding what is known as a Green New Deal. Over fifty kids were arrested in the protest.
The Green New Deal is a modification of the Roosevelt administration’s original New Deal, and asks Congress to authorise a radical plan to tackle climate change by ushering in a renewable revolution.
The plan includes producing 100 per cent of US energy by renewables within 10 years, tackling social and racial inequality, upgrading the nation’s energy grid and transportation infrastructure, increasing energy efficiency and providing a huge training programme for green jobs.
On her website, Ocasio-Cortez further outlines her thinking:
“It’s time to shift course and implement a Green New Deal – a transformation that implements structural changes to our political and financial systems in order to alter the trajectory of our environment.”
She adds: “Right now, the economy is controlled by big corporations whose profits are dependent on the continuation of climate change. This arrangement benefits few, but comes at the detriment of our planet and all its inhabitants. Its effects are life-threatening and are especially already felt by low-income communities, both in the U.S. and globally.”
She continues that: “Rather than continue a dependency on this system that posits climate change as inherent to economic life, the Green New Deal believes that radically addressing climate change is a potential path towards a more equitable economy with increased employment and widespread financial security for all.”
Ocasio-Cortez proposes that the House of Representatives establish a “Select Committee for a Green New Deal” comprised of both sides of the House, which reports back in March 2020. The idea is gaining political traction with some 40 members of Congress signed up.
There is obverwhelming public support too. Whereas Trump and the Republican party continue to deny climate change, the majority of the American public actually agree with Ocasio-Cortez and the other Green New Dealers.
A new study published this month by the Climate Change Communication programme at Yale University concluded that “The Green New Deal has Strong Bipartisan Support among Registered Voters”.
According to Yale: “The survey results show overwhelming support for the Green New Deal, with 81% of registered voters saying they either ‘strongly support’ (40%) or ‘somewhat support’ (41%) this plan.”
“As expected, support is strongest among Democrats (92%). But a large majority of Republicans (64%) – including conservative Republicans (57%) – also support the policy goals in our description of the Green New Deal.”
This led Ocasio-Cortez to tweet:
“Our first policy proposal – a #GreenNewDeal to mobilize nat’l jobs + infrastructure investment to address environment, fix our communities, & save the planet, has support from a majority of **conservative Republican voters.**
Maybe THAT’S why GOP media is so scared of us.
Our first policy proposal – a #GreenNewDeal to mobilize nat’l jobs + infrastructure investment to address environment, fix our communities, & save the planet, has support from a majority of **conservative Republican voters.**
Maybe THAT’S why GOP media is so scared of us. https://t.co/qyOJEmJeBV
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 18, 2018
As one commentator noted in Mother Jones: “The Green New Deal is the most popular policy hardly anyone has heard of yet.”
Well you will be hearing more about it in 2019, especially when Ocasio-Cortez finally takes office. It is an idea whose time has come.
To finish in the words of Katrina vanden Heuvel, writing in the Washington Post: “By championing environmental justice as a foundational principle of a Green New Deal — prioritizing employment for the communities that historically have borne the brunt of pollution — Ocasio-Cortez is counting on building the popular pressure needed to overcome Big Oil’s long-standing stranglehold over federal policy.”
Katrina concludes “To spur the necessary action globally, a Green New Deal in the United States must be mirrored, soon, by a Global Green Deal. The scientific fact is that humanity is facing a roaring climate emergency, one that grows more imposing with each day of denial and delay. A Green New Deal offers our best chance to choose a different future, while we still have a chance.”
I couldn’t agree more.