- Ernest Romero, APA
What is the Green New Deal?
If you followed last year’s presidential election, you may have heard mention of something called the Green New Deal (GND). This controversial proposal was publicly denounced by both former President Trump and current President Joe Biden during the second 2020 Presidential debate. But what exactly is the Green New Deal?
The Green New Deal was first introduced to the United States House of Representatives on Feb. 7, 2019 by NY-14 House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (popularly known as ‘AOC’) and former MA-5 and MA-7 House Representative Edward Markey. In the words of Green New Deal Policy architect Rhiana Gunn-Wright in Winning the Green New Deal, a collection of essays written by GND specialists edited by Varshini Prakash and Guido Girgenti, the GND is, “a proposal for a ten-year economic mobilization to rapidly transition the U.S. to a zero-carbon economy...” In doing so, the proposal is also designed to address systemic inequality within the U.S. economy.
Specifically, the Green New Deal has five central goals:
“Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.
Create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States.
Invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Secure clean air and water, climate and community, resilience, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all.
Promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities, including Indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”
These goals may sound appealing, given the left’s recent outcry for social justice and the exorbitant carbon emissions produced by the United States of America. In 2020 alone, the United States was responsible for the production of about 4.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions. It must also be taken into account that this amount is due to a global 7% drop in carbon emissions in comparison with 2019, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the halt of industrial production. In accordance with the proposal’s popularity, at the time of writing over 100 progressive members of Congress co-sponsored the GND. On the other hand, a majority of the Republican party and moderate Democrats argue that the Green New Deal could jeopardize the safety of the American people and the economy. With an estimated cost of $7 trillion dollars, critics claim that the proposal would drive the United States into even greater debt. They also take account of the international factors of the climate crisis, stating that regardless of the slim chance the proposal shows success, carbon emissions would continue to rise in countries such as China and India.
However, the Green New Deal has made strides with not only politicians in power but a vast majority of the American public. According to Varishini Prakash in Winning the Green New Deal, “In May 2019, 63 percent of Americans agreed that ‘A Green New Deal to address climate change by investing government money in green jobs and energy-efficient infrastructure’ was a good idea.” So much so, that it has sparked the birth of a revolutionary organization called the Sunrise Movement, whose main objective is to push politicians locally and federally to endorse the Green New Deal, or support those who wish to replace them and align with the GND’s ideologies.
Nevertheless, to truly understand why critics oppose the Green New Deal, it is crucial that its policy is thoroughly paraphrased to its most basic meaning. The GND requires an “economic mobilization,” defined as the coordination of the nation’s resources to reform federal infrastructure to transition to new practices of alternative energy harnessing, such as “regenerative agriculture, ocean farms, and… electrolysis.” In order to meet the GND’s goal of cutting 71% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, the deal would have to be passed as soon as possible.
The GOP and moderate Democrats argue that said mobilization will be catastrophic to the United States’ already-outstanding debt. Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s team has previously stated that the Green New Deal will be paid in, “The same way we paid for World War II and all our current wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit.” In response to this, Justin Haskins of Fox News writes, “If Congress were to pass the Green New Deal, Americans would likely be forced to spend more than $1 trillion per year on interest payments by 2028, making it almost impossible to pay for numerous important government programs without destroying the value of our currency.”
In spite of this, Gunn-Wright argues that through economic/industrial mobilization, production quantity and jobs would increase as they did under the Roosevelt administration during World War II. She elaborates, stating that through the recruitment of corporate officials, millions of jobs were created in the effort to support the mass production of military resources. In that same vein, the national income of marginalized groups such as black people, women, and agricultural workers “rose sharply in the 1940’s.” Advocates for the Green New Deal claim it would have the same effect, bringing in new jobs for those who were previously unemployed and those who worked directly for/in the fossil fuel industry.
This brings the Green New Deal to its promise to put an end to systemic inequalities perpetuated by the fossil fuel industry through the climate crisis’ effect on marginalized communities. Many large cities whose majority populations consist of people of color (cities such as Newark, New Jersey Flint, Michigan) have disproportionately fallen victim to climate change’s effects, such as major air and water pollution. Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s claim is that with clean energy alternatives in place, said cities will be able to rebuild themselves in an efficient manner that will create more jobs while protecting their citizens.
On the whole, the Green New Deal is an extensive outline for reforming the United States’ energy consumption and its effect on not only American citizens, but on the entire world. Though this article may give a basic understanding of what a Green New Deal would mean for the United States, there are thousands of details throughout the framework that simply cannot be addressed in a single article. If you would like to learn more, Winning the Green New Deal edited by Varshini Prakash and Guido Girgenti, can be found in your local Barnes & Noble or any eBook provider, is a stupendous resource that describes the GND’s intricate plans.
Rhiana Gunn-Wright in Winning the Green New Deal, a collection of essays written by GND specialists edited by Varshini Prakash and Guido Girgenti,
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Shaw, A. (2020, February 13). Conservative group estimates “devastating” Green New Deal would drive up energy costs, kill jobs. Fox News. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/conservative-group-estimates-devastating-green-new-deal-would-drive-up-energy-costs-kill-jobs
What is the Green New Deal? (n.d.). Sunrise Movement. https://www.sunrisemovement.org/green-new-deal/?ms=WhatistheGreenNewDeal%3F
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