The Green New Deal aims to reduce greenhouse gases and slow the acceleration of climate change while also addressing economic inequality and racial injustice. It was first introduced by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2018. The bill recognizes the need to create a more sustainable society to combat climate change and improve the quality of life for everyone.
Human activity is the leading cause of climate change over the past century, as reported by the Fourth National Climate Assessment. The bill asserts that climate change “constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” as it impacts the economic, environmental, and social stability of many communities, not just in the United States but worldwide.
Climate change has led to extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, and an increase in wildfires. It disproportionately affects indigenous people, communities of color, low-income communities, women, youth, and elderly people.
The Green New Deal acknowledges that the United States is experiencing several other related crises besides climate change. Such as a trend of wage stagnation, deindustrialization, and anti-labor policies, as well as the greatest income inequality since the Great Depression. White families, on average, have 20 times more wealth than Black families, epitomizing a large racial wealth divide.
The United States is also experiencing a decline in life expectancy and inaccessibility to basic needs, such as clean air and water, healthy food, health care, housing, transportation, and education to many marginalized communities.
The Green New Deal calls for securing clean air and water, food security, and a sustainable environment for all people of the United States for generations to come and promoting justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historical oppression of disenfranchised communities.
The bill will aim to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, to meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” as well as creating millions of new high-wage jobs, ensuring economic growth and security for all people of the United States, and investing in infrastructure to meet the needs and demands of the 21st century.
The ultimate goal of the deal is to stop using fossil fuels entirely and transition away from nuclear energy. The bill aims to be completed through a 10-year national mobilization to reduce carbon emissions in the United States.
“We’re going to transition to a 100 percent carbon free-economy that is more unionized, more just, more dignified, and guarantees more health care and housing than we ever have before,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference. “Do we intend on sending a message to the Biden administration that we need to go bigger and bolder? The answer is absolutely yes.”
However, many Republicans have denounced the resolution, calling it “a socialist super-package.” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky), a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, claims that the deal “will only saddle hardworking taxpayers with debt and displace millions of Americans from their jobs.”
The bill is a nonbinding resolution meaning that if it were to pass, it cannot be made into law or create any new programs. The Green New Deal is more of a proposal of what the United States should do to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and a more sustainable future.
Currently, carbon emissions rates are rising at a high rate. The United States emissions rate rose by 3.4 percent in 2018 and rose globally by 2.7 percent. By continuing on our current path with no real measures done to combat climate change, we risk irrevocably damaging the earth in ways we cannot come back from.