Much ink has been spilled lately about the “Green New Deal,” with many progressives and activists demanding that Democratic politicians support it, while conservatives scream and wail that supporters are crazy fringe socialists.

So what exactly is the Green New Deal?  It’s basically a set goals and aspirations that Senator Edward Markey and Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drafted to build legislation around in order to attack climate change and promote justice.  It starts with a lot of “whereas” clauses that define the problems we face, but the deal itself is about proposed solutions.  It’s drafted in three sections: what the government must do; what goals and projects will be required for mobilization; and what overall goals and projects the Green New Deal will require.  Here is the language straight from their document.  It’s detailed, but not overwhelming.

“It is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal—

  • (A) to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;
  • (B) to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States;
  • (C) to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;
  • (D) to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come—(i) clean air and water; (ii) climate and community resiliency; (iii) healthy food; (iv) access to nature; and (v) a sustainable environment; and
  • (E) to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as ‘‘frontline and vulnerable communities’’);

Green New Deal mobilization will require the following goals and projects—

  • (A) building resiliency against climate change-related disasters, such as extreme weather, including by leveraging funding and providing investments for community-defined projects and strategies;
  • (B) repairing and upgrading the structure in the United States, including—(i) by eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible; (ii) by guaranteeing universal access to clean water; (iii) by reducing the risks posed by flooding and other climate impacts; and (iv) by ensuring that any infrastructure bill considered by Congress addresses climate change;
  • (C) meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources, including—(i) by dramatically expanding and upgrading existing renewable power sources; and (ii) by deploying new capacity;
  • (D) building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘‘smart’’ power grids, and working to ensure affordable access to electricity;
  • (E) upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification;
  • (F) spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry as much as is technologically feasible, including by expanding renewable energy manufacturing and investing in existing manufacturing and industry;
  • (G) working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including—(i) by supporting family farming; (ii) by investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health; and (iii) by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food;
  • (H) overhauling transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in—(i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation; and (iii) high-speed rail;
  • (I) mitigating and managing the long-term adverse health, economic, and other effects of pollution and climate change, including by providing funding for community-defined projects and strategies;
  • (J) removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and reducing pollution, including by restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions that increase soil carbon storage, such as preservation and afforestation;
  • (K) restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems through locally appropriate and science-based projects that enhance biodiversity and support climate resiliency;
  • (L) cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites to promote economic development and sustainability;
  • (M) identifying other emission and pollution sources and creating solutions to eliminate them; and
  • (N) promoting the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services, with the aim of making the United States the international leader on climate action, and to help other countries achieve a Green New Deal;

The Green New Deal will require the following goals and projects:

  • (A) providing and leveraging, in a way that ensures that the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment, adequate capital (including through community grants, public banks, and other public financing), technical expertise, supporting policies, and other forms of assistance to communities, organizations, Federal, State, and local government agencies, and businesses working on the Green New Deal mobilization;
  • (B) ensuring that the Federal Government takes into account the complete environmental and social costs and impacts of emissions through—(i) existing laws; (ii) new policies and programs; and (iii) ensuring that frontline and vulnerable communities shall not be adversely affected;
  • (C) providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities, so those communities may be full and equal participants in the Green New Deal mobi1ization;
  • (D) making public investments in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy technologies and industries;
  • (E) directing investments to spur economic development, deepen and diversify industry in local and regional economies, and build wealth and community ownership, while prioritizing high-quality job creation and economic, social, and environmental benefits in frontline and vulnerable communities that may otherwise struggle with the transition away from greenhouse gas intensive industries;
  • (F) ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers to plan, implement, and administer the Green New Deal mobilization at the local level;
  • (G) ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hires local workers, offers training and advancement opportunities, and guarantees wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition;
  • (H) guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States;
  • (I) strengthening and protecting the right of all workers to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain free of coercion, intimidation, and harassment;
  • (J) strengthening and enforcing labor, workplace health and safety, antidiscrimination, and wage and hour standards across all employers, industries, and sectors;
  • (K) enacting and enforcing trade rules, procurement standards, and border adjustments with strong labor and environmental protections—(i) to stop the transfer of jobs and pollution overseas; and (ii) to grow domestic manufacturing in the United States;
  • (L) ensuring that public lands, waters, and oceans are protected and that eminent domain is not abused;
  • (M) obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous people for all decisions that affect indigenous people and their traditional territories, honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous people, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous people;
  • (N) ensuring a commercial environment where every businessperson is free from unfair competition and domination by domestic or international monopolies; and
  • (O) providing all people of the United States with—(i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a socialist.  I’m a Neo-Capitalist, which as far as I can tell is nearly identical to a Democratic Socialist.  I don’t believe that the government should own the means of production, and I do believe in private ownership of capital and property.  But I also believe that capitalism must be strictly and fairly regulated to keep it from its worst tendencies, like the accumulation of wealth in too few hands, and the accumulation of market power in too few companies, and the temptation to pollute or otherwise externalize costs in order to increase profits.  Socialism as it was practiced in places like the Soviet Union was a disaster, and couldn’t square with differences in ambition, motivation, determination and preference from individual to individual.  So I don’t believe that guaranteeing jobs to all people, whatever that looks like and however that would be implemented, can be successful, much less a feasible goal in our nation. And that’s the part of this Deal that most conservatives are apoplectic about.  I would rather require employers to pay a living wage to all full time workers, another idea that conservatives hate.  Conservatives also don’t like “higher education for everyone” nor do they like “healthcare for everyone,” but those are totally feasible and wouldn’t be free, much as conservatives want to paint them as giveaways.  They would be paid for by our taxes.  So most of the people benefiting from them would pay for them one way or another.

“Jobs for everyone” is the only part that I have any major concern about.  And that will be the last and most problematic to implement anyway.  The rest of the climate goals and projects in the Deal have been pushed by environmentalists for years, and represent the only sustainable future whether we like it or not.  In fact I would go further than the Deal and say that we have to move away from animal agriculture because it is the single largest culprit in the war against greenhouse gas, however the Green New Deal is more general on the issue of food.

Overall, the Green New Deal is a fascinating encapsulation of so many priorities that progressives hold dear, and thus it is an object of rage and hysteria on the part of conservatives.  It’s radical in its contrast to the Trump/GOP agenda, but it’s not fringe or radical in terms of what a solid majority of Americans want for their future, especially when it comes to tackling climate change. And considering how horrifying the news is every week about the latest climate catastrophe and the ever increasing, accelerating, self-reinforcing warming that scientists are recording, the Green New Deal is the only type of response that could make a dent.

Keep resisting…

One thought on “Day 756 – Green New Deal Details

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