Our Future In Green New Deal Is In The Hands of Young People
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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On her first day in Washington, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took a stand by participating in a protest to demand a “Green New Deal“. Ocasio-Cortez received support from the progressive groups and some Democrats for her proposal setting a goal of obtaining 100% of the nation’s electricity from renewable energy sources. On Tuesday, November 20, 2018, dozens of protesters in particle masks urged Bay Area Congressional representatives Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee to endorse a Green New Deal select committee that could create millions of jobs to combat the climate crisis. On Monday, December 10, 2018, more than 1,100 young people flooded the Capitol Hill for the second time in less than a month, with speeches, songs, and cheers echoing in the hallways of the Capitol Hill, to send a message to Democrats that they want a Green New Deal and a select committee to make it happen in the next Congress. These young activists unfurled a 40-foot banner in front of Pelosi’s office reading “Green New Deal.”
The Green New Deal, a package of policy proposals aiming to address global warming and financial crises, echoed the New Deal, the social and economic programs launched by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the wake of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. It was a set of policy proposal driven by the science in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on the Climate Change report showing that the world would need to reduce emission by 45% by 2030 and reach net-zero by mid-century or risk warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, at which point millions would become homeless and weather conditions on planet earth would worsen.
These protests were organized by the Sunrise Movement, a group of youth activists who pushed to get fossil fuel money out of the politics and advocated for the Green New Deal.
The interim communications director of the Sunrise Movement, Stephen O’Hanlon, commented, “The reason we’re planning this action right now is the Congress sets the agenda for 2019 before they go home for holiday recess. We have a handful of days to get the select committee on a Green New Deal on the agenda for 2019. We’ve been growing momentum for weeks.”
The Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash said in a speech in Pelosi’s office on Monday, December 10, 2018, “We need the real solution to the climate crisis as mandated by science and justice.”
Excerpt from wikipedia on the topic of Green New Deal, in italics, below:
The term Green New Deal (also New New Deal) is used to describe any stimulus package that aims to address both financial crises and environmental issues such as climate change. The term references the New Deal, the social and economic stimulus package undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. Supporters of a Green New Deal most likely advocate for a combination of Roosevelt’s fiscal ideals with more contemporary approaches such as investment in renewable energies and the promotion of greater resource efficiency.
Broadly, the proposals for a Green New Deal echo the recommendations of UN-mandated organizations such as ICLEI or the TEEB, of global NGOs, and of the Basel II and related monetary accords, especially as these relate to reforms to measurement of fundamental ecosystem risk and financial liabilities. The reinsurance industry has also expressed support for the general principles of global carbon and emissions charges, for metrics of ecosystem destabilization risk, and for raising the price companies and individuals have to pay when using nature’s services and natural resources.
Several measures proposed as part of a Green New Deal have already been implemented in one or more G8 or G20 countries including Norway, South Korea, the UK, Germany, and the US. The financial proposals echo some of the programs already underway at the IMF, World Bank, BIS and ECB that aim to better reflect the value of ecosystems and reduce systematic incentives to invest in “dirty” or destructive industries.
- Government-led investment in energy and resource efficiency, as well as reusable energies and microgeneration;
- Low-carbon infrastructure redevelopment in order to create jobs;
- A directed tax on the profits of oil and gas companies with proceeds being invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency;
- Financial incentives for green investment and reduced energy usage, including low interest rates for green investment;
- Re-regulation of international finance, including capital controls, and increased scrutiny of financial derivatives – likely along the lines of Basel II;
- Curbing corporate tax evasion through compulsory financial reporting and by clamping down on tax havens;
- A Global Marshall Plan Initiative using “green quantitative easing” to create money to fund the “great transition” to a society free of fossil fuels and other measures that aim to preserve the biosphere.
In the United States, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein made a Green New Deal a central part of her campaigns as early as 2012. Greens continued to suggest a Green New Deal in their rebuttal to the 2018 State of the Union speech. The Green New Deal is officially part of the platform of the Green Party of the United States.
A November 2018 article in Vogue stated, “There isn’t just one Green New Deal yet. For now, it’s a platform position that some candidates are taking to indicate that they want the American government to devote the country to preparing for climate change as fully as Franklin Delano Roosevelt once did to reinvigorating the economy after the Great Depression.”
A week after the 2018 midterm elections, climate justice group Sunrise Movement organized a protest in Nancy Pelosi‘s office calling on Nancy Pelosi to support a Green New Deal. On the same day, freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez launched a resolution to create a committee on the Green New Deal. Following this, several candidates came out supporting a “Green New Deal”, including Deb Haaland, b, and Antonio Delgado. They were joined in the following weeks by Reps. John Lewis, Earl Blumenauer, Carolyn Maloney, and José Serrano.
By the end of November, eighteen Democratic members of Congress were co-sponsoring a proposed House Select Committee on a Green New Deal, and incoming representatives Ayanna Pressley and Joe Neguse had announced their support. Draft text would task this committee with a “’detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan’ capable of making the U.S. economy ‘carbon neutral’ while promoting ‘economic and environmental justice and equality,'” to be released in early 2020, with draft legislation for implementation within 90 days.
Paul Bledsoe of the Progressive Policy Institute expressed concern that setting unrealistic “aspirational” goals of 100% renewable energy, as in the Ocasio-Cortez proposal, “does a disservice to the real seriousness of climate change“, and could undermine “the credibility of the effort.”
Incoming committee chairs Frank Pallone and Peter DeFazio indicated a preference for handling these matters in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. (Writing in Gentleman’s Quarterly, Jay Willis responded that despite the best efforts of Pallone and De Fazio over many years, “the planet’s prognosis has failed to improve,” providing “pretty compelling evidence that it is time for legislators to consider taking a different approach.”)
In contrast, Representative Ro Khanna thought that creating a Select Committee specifically dedicated to a Green New Deal would be a “very commonsense idea”, based on the recent example of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (2007-2011), which had proven effective in developing a 2009 bill for cap-and-trade legislation.
Models for implementation
As of December 2018, models for structuring a Green New Deal remain in the initial stages of discussion.
Although Chuck Schumer has indicated that measures to address climate change and renewable energy must be included in a 2019 infrastructure package, as of December 2018, articles describing his position referred to it as “green infrastructure” rather than as a Green New Deal.
An article in the Intercept characterizes a Green New Deal more broadly, as economic planning and industrial policy measures which would enable mobilization for the environment, similar to the economic mobilization for World War II, and similar to the internal planning of large corporations. The article quotes an expert who states that imposing jail terms for failure to meet emissions targets “may sound aggressive by today’s standards, but [it] has been par for the course at other points in American history when the country has faced existential threats.”
A variety of programs could serve as models for implementation, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps of the original New Deal, a work relief program operating between 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men.
Existing programs training workers in green skills include a program called Roots of Success, founded in 2008 to bring low-income people into living wage professions. Funding for Roots of Success came from the $90 billion in green initiatives incorporated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
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