The Green New Deal: Can We Both Solve Climate Change and Build the Economy?
Last week Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released details on the ambitious, if potentially divisive, Green New Deal. Whether you agree with it or not, it is catapulting climate change back into the national political conversation.
What is “The Green New Deal?”
- The Green New Deal is a plan to address some the biggest issues facing the US: climate change, social justice, and economic inequality. It’s styled after the New Deal of the great depression era, which aimed to fix an economic crisis with public works projects.
- The resolution aims to offset enough carbon to meet the deadline set by the IPCC recently to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
- It calls for heavy investment in clean technology and energy efficiency projects.
- These efforts would focus on areas of the country that previously relied on fossil fuels, as well as rural and poor areas that have historically suffered from pollution.
What Makes it Controversial?
- Opponents to the plan argue that it’s too expensive and ambitious.
- There has also been pushback on the resolution’s focus on a social safety net, including union protections, affordable housing, and universal health care.
- Defenders of the resolution argue that previous American achievements such as going to the moon were also ambitious and thought to be impossible, but they started with a goal and a timeline.
- Whether you agree with the scope and goals of the Green New Deal or not, at least it has brought the topic of climate change back into public discussion.
Can we Strengthen the Economy by Fighting Climate Change?
- Skeptics have long argued that transitioning to “greener” technologies would be prohibitively expensive and harm the economy.
- But in practice, states investing in clean energy have seen an economic boost.
- There are practical success stories of clean energy addressing pollution and climate change as well as social justice and economic issues.
- For example, community solar delivers jobs, offsets pollution, and brings financial saving to the communities where the solar farms are installed.
- Community solar and programs like it are more accessible to people who are not in an economic position to buy or install clean energy individually.
The Green New Deal may be criticized as divisive and ambitious, but the idea that we can boost the economy, address inequality, and fight climate change may not be so far fetched.
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