The Green New Deal is a blueprint

What it means, even if it doesn’t pass

~James Duffy, Staff Writer~

With the formal support of Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, New York’s 14th district representative and congressional newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the fully outlined text of her “Green New Deal” resolution on Feb. 7, seeking congressional support for the large governmental reform. 

The Deal, which has been discussed for months but has just recently been formalized, has made significant waves and polarized members of the right and the left; the right has denounced such large government intervention at large, while the left is still split. 

The resolution, as simplified by author David Roberts of Vox, has two major “priorities”: justice and investment. Understanding the resolution by these two terms can give one a clearer vision of what exactly Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive lawmakers are seeking to do with such legislation. They want to prioritize everyday people in solving economic and environmental crises by means of sustainable investments in green infrastructure and businesses. 

The document of the resolution is readily available online from a variety of news sites, but for those who don’t have the time to read and analyze the 14-page document, what follows is an outline, summary and further notes about the resolution and its significance.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE NEW DEAL?

The resolution begins by outlining a grocery-list of “whereas” statements, establishing foundational facts, including (in short) that climate change is real, human-induced, contributing to the intensity of extreme weather and natural disasters, only getting worse, a national security threat, and intensifying simultaneously with economic and social issues like income inequality, especially racial and gender inequality. 

Interestingly enough, the original, FDR-era New Deal from which the resolution draws its name is also referenced here; the resolution states that dangerous economic and social conditions prompted significant (and for the most part, effective) government intervention during the Great Depression and for the FDR administration. 

It is with the Green New Deal that progressives are urging and rallying behind the same type of solutions, only this time, the issues are rooted in the environmental crisis of climate change. 

Following the four-page introduction of the issues at hand, the document resolves four major proposals to Congress, with over 30 specifications and sub-clauses total. 

First, it is resolved that it is the duty of the federal government to “create a Green New Deal,” that is outlined with various provisions, such as an ambitious net-goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, green job-creation, sustainable infrastructure investment, clean water and “healthy food” for all. It also outlines economic and environmental justice for “frontline and vulnerable communities” that include communities of color, indigenous communities, women, the elderly and the impoverished.  

Second, the resolution outlines that provisions (assumingly, policies) to meet these “Green New Deal goals” should be accomplished within a 10-year “national mobilization” by means of “leveraging funding” for holistic, nationwide sustainable infrastructure and expanding climate change consciousness in the political and legislative sphere. The 14 subheadings and specifications following this second outline are the policy-related suggestions/ideas that are prescribed to alleviate and solve the environmental impacts of the climate crisis. 

Thirdly, the document resolves briefly that such aforementioned actions and coherent policies must be developed “through transparent and inclusive consultation” with those same “frontline and vulnerable communities” as well as academia, worker cooperatives and unions, and businesses. Basically, this isn’t going to be a group of elected politicians pushing their prescriptive policies onto communities, but rather, the policies will be built with the input of these groups of everyday people. 

Finally, under the fourth proposal, Ocasio-Cortez outlines the specific “goals and projects” that such a resolution would entail. What follows this fourth proposition are specifics of how such policies would be developed with goals to “spur economic development, deepen and diversify industry in local and regional economies, and build wealth and community ownership”. This section is an expansive one, and it contains the policy-relevant ideas proposed to solve the social and economic dynamics of the climate crisis, including resources for better education/training, inclusive “democratic/participatory processes,” better wages and retirement security, labor protections, and basic health and housing provisions. 

This list seems endless, and has (and probably will continue to) turn some heads and raise eyebrows. 

Taking a step back from the lengthy resolution itself, assessing what this means (and doesn’t mean) for the nation’s political sphere and climate action is crucial.

WHAT IF IT DOESN’T PASS?

It is not a stretch to say such a resolution probably won’t pass; Republicans and Democrats alike have wasted no time calling Ocasio-Cortez and her resolution radical and pointless, and although resolutions do not have to pass through the Senate for passage, many are convinced it really stands no chance. 

Additionally, the resolution is rather expansive, and many are hesitant to endorse it since it has many implications and would affect many aspects of American life. Only time will tell what direct legislative path the resolution will follow, but no matter what happens, it is evident that this resolution goes much further than the walls of Congress.

What AOC has effectively done with her Green New Deal has created a platform for the upcoming progressive movement, and she knows this. 

The young congresswoman said in an interview on Meet the Press the day of the release that the Deal is a “blueprint” and an “organizing play” for 2020. And when three of the most notable and likely Democratic forerunners for the presidency have already backed it, it is even easier to say that this Deal and its ideas are not going away any time soon. 

To be blunt, the Green New Deal is already a “litmus test” for the 2020 Democratic primaries, and the candidate who faces President Trump seeking re-election will likely maintain many of the foundational beliefs and work for the inclusive policies expressed here. 

From an environmentalist’s perspective, the Green New Deal is a massive push in a positive direction in terms of talking about and taking climate change issues seriously. The science community internationally has been advocating urgent political action to safeguard the impending (and already relevant) consequences of anthropogenic climate change. 

Additionally, addressing environmental injustices as they intersect with racial, economic and social issues on such a large scale is a breath of fresh air in our current political climate that often disregards or ignores these issues at large. The fact that these issues are being discussed and recognized is in itself a growth in effective and beneficial climate policy

Finally, all politics aside, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shares and continues to express a  belief she has in common with the majority of the nation: she believes that America has been and should continue to be a leader on global issues and change. Much motivation behind creating this progressive, environmentalist blueprint points to the foundational belief that America is a global leader. This resolution is not an end-all solution to such problems, and to many, it is more of a call to action in rallying our country to step up to the plate as a global environmental leader.

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