What is the Green New Deal?
When asked about the fourteen-page resolution, the majority of the public will struggle to provide a thorough answer. In short, The Green New Deal (GND) is a plan to invest in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, which is meant to drastically change the energy sector and the entire economy. The GND was designed to decarbonize the economy in order to limit carbon emissions, and to make the economy fair for all Americans.
You May Not Know That…
While Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the current spokeswoman for the GND, she is only one of the authors, and she did not originate the catchy name either. In the US, the term was first used by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2007. Then, in 2008, Barack Obama included the GND in his presidential platform. In 2016, a GND was the center of Jill Stein’s presidential campaign as a member of the Green Party, and in 2016, Bernie Sanders’ campaign also included a GND. What you need to know is that many aspects of the GND have been edited by various people in the last decade. The idea that the United States should revamp the economy and run ONLY on clean energy is not new.
It is also important to know that the GND is not one giant bill to be passed at one time. Instead, it is an initiative that was introduced as non-binding resolutions in the House and Senate. Think of it as an outline of the most pressing liberal goals for the United States.
Perhaps the most important takeaway is this: the GND is not ALL about global warming. The Deal was designed to improve the standard of living (beyond economic improvements) for everyone in the United States while limiting damage to the planet.
Overall Goals Outlined in the Green New Deal
The GND’s goals include providing “all people of the United States with high-quality healthcare; affordable, safe, and adequate housing; economic security; and access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.”
It involves a 10-year plan to convert “100 percent of the power demand in the United States” to “clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” to upgrade “all existing buildings” to meet energy efficiency requirements, and to expand high-speed rail in order to eliminate the need for air travel in the United States.
According to its authors, The GND’s infrastructure program could create millions of new green jobs, while providing benefits like health care, sustainable wages, paid vacations, retirement security, and medical leave to every American.
Stand-out Sections of the Green New Deal
All power will come from renewable energy, which includes hydroelectric, wind, biomass, solar and geothermal. Renewable energy only makes up 20% of US energy production currently so this would be a massive effort. By 2050, renewable energy is projected to make up about 31% of US energy.
It is no secret that Industrial agriculture contributes significantly to global warming through greenhouse gas emissions. The GND would work with “farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.” According to a 2019 CNN report, beef is responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, and that livestock accounts for 14.5% of total global emissions. Changing diets could significantly reduce global temperatures.
If the public is going to lend a hand in implementing the GND, the public should be rewarded. The GND would receive “appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment, adequate capital (including through community grants, public banks, and other public financing), technical expertise, supporting policies, and other forms of assistance to communities, organizations, Federal, State, and local government agencies, and businesses working on the Green New Deal mobilization.”
Providing higher education
Free higher education is not a new idea, and the GND does not explain how it would work exactly. However, the Deal says the US should provide “higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities so those communities may be full and equal participants in the Green New Deal mobilization.”
Transportation would be completely overhauled with “(i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation; and (iii) high-speed rail.”
The GND also promises to protect indigenous peoples, enact and enforce trade laws, provide universal health care, housing, security, access to clean air and water, healthy food and nature, and to protect the rights of all workers.
This All Sounds Great, But What is the Reality of the Deal?
The Green New Deal is very lengthy and idealistic, so naturally, it received a lot of backlash from Republicans in Congress. Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have cited the GND as a way for Democrats to create a socialist country and polarize the two parties. It is obvious that the implementation of the GND would push the Democratic party quite far to the left.
Moreover, the Democrats in Congress are aware that the GND should be more specific with regards to its ambitious goals and how to reach them. This is not a piece of legislation that will be passed in the near future–Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been publicly skeptical of the GND and hasn’t mentioned any plan to bring the resolution in its current form to the floor for a vote. Therefore, the GND currently serves as a compilation of the Democratic Party’s (rather, those within the party who support the Deal’s) long term goals.