In New York City, there is a clock. A clock that counts every second until humanity is locked in a prison of its own creation. As of December 2020, there are barely 7 years remaining until climate change is irreversible. Humanity must achieve zero emissions before this timer hits zero.
On the political hot seat for many years has been, not only if climate change exists, but how to address it in an effective way that creates jobs, acknowledges the communities most affected by this crisis, and that does not harm the life of the average American. Many progressive politicians see the time-sensitive nature of environmental concerns and are scrambling to put together policies that secure a future for Generation Z.
One such legislation is the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a proposed set of laws that would address climate change directly as a national security threat. Currently, the foundation for the Green New Deal has begun. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) introduced resolution 109 to the 116th Congress that “[recognizes] the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” The resolution outlines the required steps and tasks that must be completed to ensure the aforementioned zero emissions.
Because the Green New Deal is being discussed by both parties and the media, much of what this resolution says is lost. What will a Green New Deal look like? What exactly needs to be addressed? What will be the toll of a non-zero emissions society?
PRESIDENT BIDEN’S CLIMATE PLAN & HOW IT COMPARES TO THE GREEN NEW DEAL
President Joe Biden has been attacked by many conservative critics for allegedly supporting the Green New Deal, when he has stated point-blank during a presidential debate that he does NOT support the resolution.
Instead, he is putting forward the BIDEN PLAN: and here is how it differs from the Green New Deal.
Green New Deal
- A broad resolution estimated to cost trillions of USD over 10 years
- Providing a guaranteed job with a family-sustaining wage & benefits to every American
- Calls for 100% of the clean, renewable, & zero-emission energy
- Emphasis on environmental justice and eliminating inequities
- Appeals to leftist voters, but not moderates.
- A 2 trillion USD plan over 4 years towards clean energy and infrastructure
- An emphasis on supporting labor unions’ right to organize and bargain for fair wages for their members.
- Calls for a carbon pollution-free U.S. power sector by 2035
- Directs 40% of its spending to historically disadvantaged communities
- Does not aim to prohibit fracking
- Appeals to moderate voters
Breaking Down Resolution 109
The resolution begins by summarizing the “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees Celcius” by the International Panel on Climate Change and the Fourth National Climate Assessment. Said summarization begins by claiming three things: “human activity is the dominant cause of observed climate change over the past century;” climate change has severe weather implications that can harm many; and that the effects of global warming over 2 degrees will cause much catastrophe.
Beyond this, the resolution then recognizes many factual claims that have been the topic of recent political debate. These include the fact that the United States emitted 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014, that climate change disproportionately affects indigenious peoples and communities of color, the United States has already begun to see the terrifying reach of global warming, and that a Green New Deal must be of similar paramount (if not more) to the New Deal following World War II.
Resolution 109 then lists what a Green New Deal must accomplish. This begins by achieving zero emissions in a “fair and just transition for all communities.” Claimed next that millions of high paying jobs will be created that should provide economic security. All generations must have access to clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment. The prevention of further environmental injustice for marginalized communities is emphasized. All of these requirements for a Green New Deal are referred to as the “Green New Deal goals.”
The resolution expands on the many ways in which clean and renewable energy should be implemented and expanded. “Removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and energy as much as technologically feasible…” writes Resolution 109. Then emphasized is the need to work collaboratively with farmers by supporting family farming and investing in sustainable farming practices.
Some of the final things a Green New Deal must complete includes protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, the cleaning of hazardous waste, the identification of other pollution and emission causes and ways to prevent them, and the promotion of international exchange of ideas and resources.
The resolution concludes by naming ways in which the government must act to achieve a Green New Deal and a safe world. Firstly, a return on investment for government agencies and businesses working to enact the deal must be secured. The need for environmental education is emphasized. The resolution vows to protect and ensure future prosperity for all workers who will be affected by the Green New Deal. Made clear is the necessity of economic growth to come from such a deal as to inspire future environmental protection and sustainability.
Critiques of the Green New Deal
Some critics of the Green New Deal claim that its goals are too ambitious. The Green New Deal will not only secure environmental protections but it will recognize systemic racism and move towards a more socalist form of governance. Critics claim this is “skipping over the basics.” These basics include a carbon tax, investment in nuclear power, and funding for carbon capture. Green New Deal supporters claim that democrats have an opportunity to take real and lasting action on climate change while considering the intersectionality of those most affected. A carbon tax is not enough to save America.
Moderates and even some progressives are afraid of this very thing: that the Green New Deal will blow up in their face and cause many independents to side with Republicans in future elections. At the end of the day, something must be done. Many call for progressives to compromise for more moderate policies to unite more people in the climate fight and avoid the potential of a political blow-up. Joe Biden, for instance, has his own environmental plan that is not as aggressive or ambitious. Instead, Biden’s plan is more specific and also appeals to moderate voters.
Furthermore, where the funding for the Green New Deal will come from remains an important unanswered question. Conservatives throw out tremendously large numbers like 93 trillion dollars. Trump has been noted saying that the Green New Deal would “completely take over American energy and completely destroy America’s economy through their new $100 trillion dollar Green New Deal.” This set of legislation will undoubtedly come with a large price tag. However, this cost could be as low as half of what President Trump claims at 51 trillion dollars.
The Green New Deal is a set of legislation that intends to achieve environmental security. The Green New Deal does this while considering those communities on the frontlines of environmental disaster. This legislation is a time-crunched call to action.
There are many critiques from conservatives and moderates who fear the change the Green New Deal necessitates. They fear the prospect of political controversy, and maybe even, economic collapse.
These politicians fail to realize there are only seven years of hope left. Only seven years to put into action unprecedented change and unprecedented policy. The Green New Deal is one of the first attempts to see this change come to fruition. It is the only attempt to acknowledge the intersectionality of environmental politics. The weight of this time-sensitive issue, however, is on the politicians and corporations. The average person cannot single-handedly reverse climate change.
While politicians continue to stall and debate, there is a clock that counts second by second until there is no return, until there is a grim future for Gen Z. It is up to the politicians of today to pave a path of progress, but it is future generations that must make sure the environment remains safe.
I am a college student studying political science, anthropology, and creative writing. i am an activist and ally looking to educate people on social issues.