Article by Daphne
Edited by Madeleine and Audrey
What is the Green New Deal?
When the youth activist group Sunrise Movement conducted a sit-in outside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office, they connected with the Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). This sit-in was in response to two major reports from the UN and federal scientists stating that climate change is much bigger problem than what they had thought. As seen in the graph below, scientists believed that if the increase in global temperature stayed below 2.0℃, then there would be little harm to the environment. However, this isn’t the case, and Earth is currently at risk of heat waves, wildfires, mass migration, and many more environmental problems that could lead to wildlife and ecosystem endangerment. The Sunrise Movement demanded the United States to make environmentally conscious legislation to aid conservation and preservation efforts; thus, the Green New Deal was formed.
Taken from Vox, 2019
The Green New Deal, introduced by AOC and Democratic Senator Edward J. Markey, is not a bill, nor legislation, nor policy proposal. It is 14 pages of a first step, stating what the United States needs to do to save our planet from global warming. According to this plan, the U.S. needs to be net-zero (equal amounts of absorbed and released carbon) by 2050. This will require a 10-year conversion of the fossil fuels industry to 100% electrical power from renewable and zero-emission sources. The U.S. will need to invest in electric vehicles and high-speed trains to replace old transportation, digitize the power grid, and upgrade every building to be energy efficient. The Green New Deal would ensure high-paying jobs in clean air, water, and food, which the proposal considers basic human rights. Additionally, it would help address socioeconomic inequality as some areas, such as lower income and minority groups, are more impacted by environmental problems than others.
Why did the Green New Deal not pass?
Republicans and Democrats alike opposed the Green New Deal due to its controversial policies. For instance, the Green New Deal did not have a secure focus on environmental change. In the plan, there was no mention of nuclear power, pollution in cities, capping, and effects on agriculture. On the other hand, there was too much information that strayed from environmental protection and into other sectors like free college and federal jobs. The Green New Deal’s proposed plan is estimated to cost around $100 trillion, excluding the millions of jobs that would be lost from industries such as coal, gas, and internal combustion engines (granted, the cost of the Green New Deal was heavily debated and varied widely). Furthermore, there is no certainty that the Green New Deal would be able to pay back in growth for the $100 trillion, as it is also unknown where the money to pay for the plan would come from. Additionally, it was argued that the lack of focus and cost of the plan made it unworthy of such an investment and potential harm to the economy.
What is Joe Biden’s new environmental plan and how is it similar to the Green New Deal?
Democratic Nominee and Former Vice President Joe Biden’s newly released plan is similar to the Green New Deal, with some proposals specifically taken from the Green New Deal itself: clean energy, infrastructure, and increased jobs.
Biden’s plan will take $2 trillion dollars over four years and will be funded by raising the corporate income tax from 21% to 28%. By 2035 –2050 at the latest – there will be an emissions-free power sector. This will include electricity with zero carbon pollution by solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear energy, and new technology. In 4 years, 4 million buildings will be energy efficient and clean. Biden also believes that American-manufactured electric vehicles will dominate the market. An Office of Environmental and Climate Justice will be created in the Justice Department. Racial minority communities would reap 40% of the benefits with ensured clean water and reduced smog, and the plan will expand broadband access to tribal communities. The plan also will help coal workers transition to the 10 million clean energy jobs. On an international level, the U.S. will pressure other nations into getting rid of fossil fuels and cease drilling in the Arctic by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, emphasizing that any future agreement with China must include carbon mitigation.
Biden’s plan is not perfect. Like the Green New Deal, it is vague on how these changes would be enacted, and the Sunrise Movement predicts that 2050 will be too late to make significant change. Additionally, some of the language in the plan was copied verbatim from environmental organizations without any credit until after criticism, making it appear as though Biden did not fully care for the plan in the first place. Not only that, but the corporate tax raise would only raise about $700 billion over a 10 year span, leaving another $1.3 trillion to raise. Nevertheless, a plan to begin America’s transition into cleaner energy exists. With now two big plans in a row focusing on environmental change, these plans could lead to a greener, more sustainable planet.
Cover Image: https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/02/12/USAT/1dfc859e-10c1-4807-85fe-7c4294d166b5 EPA_epaselect_USA_CONGRESS_GREEN_NEW_DEAL.JPG?crop=3812,2144,x0,y325&width=3200&height=1680&fit=bounds