What’s being called a “Green New Deal,” a wide-ranging effort to tackle climate change, with overtones of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s sweeping 1933 New Deal to counter the Great Depression, will be unveiled by Democrats Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill.
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The ambitious proposal calls not just for a massive overhaul of the nation’s energy sector over the next 10 years, but also investments in the country’s education and health care systems and a redesign of the entire U.S. economy. The deal “recognizes that a new national, social, industrial and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal is a historic opportunity,” the House resolution states.
The resolution would be non-binding, meaning if it does get a vote on the House floor and passes it wouldn’t become law, but is a way for Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Markley of Massachusetts, to push for action on climate change, which they hope to make one of the Democratic Party’s top issues in the 116th Congress.
The Green New Deal has support from as many as 40 congressional members, including a few 2020 candidates — but lacks avenues to become law of the land.
Though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “very excited” about the deal in a press conference Thursday, she played it down as just “one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive” in an interview with Politico the day before.
Pelosi also announced the news Thursday that Ocasio-Cortez, despite being a key force behind the Green New Deal, would not be serving on a House Select Committee on Climate Crisis Pelosi appointed — one which Ocasio-Cortez has criticized for lacking political power. Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment.
Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Ocasio-Cortez was invited to be on the select committee but declined.
Pelosi, who experienced the political downside of pushing green legislation considered too progressive for its time — when she tried to get cap-and-trade legislation passed– explained Thursday what she’s looking for in climate change legislation this congressional session: “an evidence-based, well-defined approach to how we go forward to make a difference.”
40 Representatives now back the Select Committee for a #GreenNewDeal — one of the most ambitious economic and climate policies ever discussed in Congress.
Our organizing is working. We’re changing politics in America.
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— Sunrise Movement ?? (@sunrisemvmt) December 19, 2018
She hasn’t seen the Green New Deal proposal, Pelosi said, but said applauded the enthusiasm it is has generated on climate change.
“Time is of the essence. We welcome the enthusiasm that is there,” Pelosi said. “The Green New Deal points out the fact that the public is much more aware of the challenge that we face and that is a good thing because the public sentiment will help us pass the most bold common denominator, bold initiatives, with the interest in again saving the planet, while we create jobs, protect the health of our children and pass the planet on in a very serious way.”
A look at the Green New Deal
Ultimately, the Green New Deal focuses on the alarming findings of recent climate change reports — increasing numbers of natural disasters like wildfires, droughts and floods all because of rising levels of greenhouse gases; mass migration expected from affected regions; more than $500 billion in lost output by 2100 — and suggests massive solutions, like bringing greenhouse gas emissions all the way down to net-zero.
The resolution also calls for 100 percent of U.S. energy demand to be “clean, renewable and zero-emission” and for a redesign of transportation systems nationwide in order to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
It calls to secure, “for all people of the United States for generations to come,” clean air, clean water, investments in endangered communities for better resiliency in the face of natural disaster, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment, as described in the resolution.
Indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, low-income workers, the elderly, young people and other groups are given a particular focus, deemed “frontline and vulnerable communities” because of the disproportionate effect climate change has had on these groups.
“Climate change, pollution and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environment and economic injustices,” for these groups, the resolution says.
How would these goals come to fruition? The particular details aren’t worked out in the resolution — but the broad ideas include “spurring massive growth” in clean manufacturing, upgrading buildings around the U.S. to be more energy-efficient, working with farmers and ranchers to make farming more sustainable and investing in education for everyone.
National and grassroots groups has mixed reactions Thursday. Some commended the effort — including the group Sunrise Movement, which recently kicked off support for the deal with a sit-in in Pelosi’s office — but others criticized the lack of regulatory efforts aimed at fossil fuel production.
“We urgently need a bold and ambitious Green New Deal that tackles fossil fuels head-on,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the progressive environmental non-profit Food & Water Watch. “We support the ambition and scale of this resolution, and we are heartened by its recognition that climate change poses a grave threat to healthy food and clean water, but any legislation that does not explicitly address the urgent need to keep fossil fuels in the ground is insufficient.”