The Green New Deal


Zavier Jobe, Staff Writer

Since defeating incumbent Joe Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has made numerous policy proposals that have greatly influenced the debate on policy in Congress. Since entering the House of Representatives, the congresswoman from New York has proposed both raising the top marginal tax rate for income made above $10 million to 60-70% and the Green New Deal. These policy proposals were not even discussed before her election and are now at the center of the debate over taxes and action against climate change.

Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal resolution was introduced alongside in the House along with senator Ed Markey (D-MA) who introduced the same proposal in the senate. The joint release on February 7th was made as the 2020 Democratic Primary race starts to heat up. Progressives such as Ocasio-Cortez and Markey made the announcement with the hopes of influencing Democrats on climate policy, which they argue have been avoided for too long by politicians. Many contenders have already come out in support of the plan and have co-sponsored it in Congress, including senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The call for immediate climate action comes as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns the world only has until 2030 to curb carbon emissions before severe damage is done to the planet. The agreement states “urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C”. The report has been met with international calls for countries to enact policies that significantly curb carbon emissions in their states.

Even locally, efforts are being taken to curb the negative impact humans are causing to the environment. In a few weeks, East Ridge High School’s SGA will be launching a pilot recycling program during lunch to limit the amount of trash being sent to the landfills. This will be the only recycling program done by any high school in Lake County. This is being done with the hope of not only expanding it to other parts of the school but also encourage other schools in the county to join the effort in years to come.

The Green New Deal proposed by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey calls for the United States to achieve a net-zero release of greenhouse gases over the next ten years. This would be achieved through modernizing America’s energy infrastructure by shifting the country away from a reliance on fossil fuels and towards renewable energy through the allocation of subsidies towards the industry and promoting its growth. Many supporters of the plan say that it models FDR’s New Deal programs that helped the American economy recover after the Great Depression, as well as Eisenhower’s bold decision to build a national highway system in the 50s. Supporters also link the criticism for the plan to critics of Roosevelt and Eisenhower at the time who claim that the policy is too radical and would put the country into too much debt.

However, many supporters, such as Bernie Sanders (I-VT) claim that a radical approach is necessary to combat the threat of climate change: “When it comes to taking on the imminent threat of climate change, we cannot think small. We must enact bold solutions to save our planet from the disastrous effects of climate change by passing the Green New Deal to save the planet and create millions of new jobs.” Indeed, even the UN report calling for action on climate change, states that extreme, but possible action must be taken to combat climate change.

However, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claims that talk of a Green New Deal is absurd. McConnell claims that the proposal is nothing but a “socialist fever dream” and plans to put the deal up for a vote in the senate. The aim of McConnell is to attempt to put 2020 Democrats on the record on whether or not they support the bill, potentially using it against them by painting those Democrats as too radical ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election.

McConnell has attempted to use this strategy in the past by putting Democrats up for a vote on abolishing ICE and replacing it with a new agency before the 2018 Midterm Elections. Although at the time, many in the Republican Party and the media thought this would have been a good strategy, it arguably failed in the elections as Democrats gained 41 seats in the House of Representatives and gained control of the chamber.

Polling of the American public regarding the Green New Deal shows that the plan may also fail for McConnell this time around. Polling from the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, in which the surveyors remove the name of the sponsors of the plan in order to eliminate partisan bias, shows that 92% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans back the plan. Overall, more than 80% of registered voters in the poll supported the plan.

Overall the polling is clear that Americans believe climate change is real and the government should be taking action to combat it. An INSIDER poll found that 62% of Americans believe that global warming is a result of human activity, with just 12% saying that the Earth is not warming. Additionally, 88% of respondents believed that the United States should invest in infrastructure designed to build resilience against climate change-related disasters.

The American public is clearly on the side of the government taking climate action. Politicians must act accordingly and represent their constituents by debating how to deal with the threat of climate change instead of whether or not it exists. Even some representatives in the Republican Party, which has historically been the party of climate change skepticism, are entertaining the idea of taking action on climate change, including Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio. By taking action on climate change, politicians not only will be listening to their own constituents but also securing the future of the planet.