Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Green New Deal

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Before she was sworn into office on January 3, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez started talking about the need for a Green New Deal — a sweeping proposal that would radically change the U.S., taking us from dependence on fossil fuels to a renewable energy-based economy in just 12 years. Hype has grown, but details of the plan have been scarce — until now. This morning, Ocasio-Cortez released a resolution, developed alongside Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, which outlines not only goals and aspirations of the Green New Deal, but specific policy proposals.

Before this morning’s unveiling, the GND was already gaining in popularity, with most Democratic candidates for president publicly supporting the initiative, but it’s important to build upon that popularity with more prescriptive language: the GND cannot just be an abstraction if it’s going to work. That said, what Ocasio-Cortez and Markey released this morning is not a piece of legislation being introduced to either chamber of Congress. Rather, it lays out how the Green New Deal will likely work, balancing a vision for the future with more concrete recommended policies — an important step in order to drum up more support for the proposal.

The full document outlines five major goals (on top of numerous smaller goals), over a dozen major projects to achieve said goals, and multiple requirements for completing the projects in a manner consistent with the resolution’s climate and justice goals. If you’re interested, you can read the full resolution here. Otherwise, read our explainer of the highlights you need to know.

First, why the Green New Deal?

To start with, the resolution, which has at least 64 co-sponsors in the House and 9 in the Senate, outlines why the GND is necessary. The long and short of it: we have a very limited amount of time to slow global warming, for which the U.S. has “historically been responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Citing the October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report and the Fourth National Climate Assessment report from November 2018, the resolution states, in no uncertain terms, that the world has approximately 12 years to limit the human-caused warming of the earth to 2 degrees Celsius (if not 1.5 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial temperatures, or the results will be catastrophic.

If we do not stanch the warming of the planet within this 12-year period, and global warming crosses the 2 degree threshold, the following will result:

  • A loss of 99 percent of coral reefs on earth
  • Wildfires that, by 2050, will burn twice as much land as pre-2019 levels
  • A loss of approximately $500 billion in annual economic output by the U.S. economy
  • Upwards of $1 trillion in damage to public infrastructure and real estate along the U.S. coastlines
  • 350 million people exposed to “deadly heat stress” by 2050

To put things into perspective: the planet warmed approximately 1 degree Celsius by 2015, according to Climate Analytics, and the warming of the planet has nearly doubled since the 1970s. Per the GND resolution, the U.S. was responsible for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions through 2014 and must take the lead on reducing emissions immediately.

Now, onto the meat of the resolution.

The GND’s goals:

There are five major goals outlines in the proposal. They are:

  1. Achieve net-zero carbon emissions
  2. Create millions of high-paying jobs
  3. Invest in sustainable infrastructure and industry
  4. Guarantee clean air and water, climate resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment
  5. Promote justice and equity for historically marginalized people

Further, the GND outlines goals such as increasing domestic manufacturing, stopping the transfer of jobs and pollution overseas, and meeting 100 percent of the U.S.’s power demands with renewable energy within 10 years. They also want to create a high-speed rail to reduce emissions resulting from the current transportation infrastructure, restore threatened habitats, create equity in the food supply chain, and even remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Sure sounds like a lot, so you may be thinking: How the hell are they going to accomplish any of this?