The Green New Deal is creating left-wing enthusiasm—but also skepticism

While popular, not all Democrats are on board with the plan and some have expressed more skepticism about slashing carbon emissions that quickly


A group of U.S. Democrats have published a formal proposal for a “green new deal” that would eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade.

The document, a non-binding congressional resolution, is an effort to make climate change a central issue in the 2020 presidential race.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly elected congresswoman who drafted the resolution with veteran Democrat senator Edward Markey, plans to immediately start work on legislation to flesh out the details.

The resolution has “more breadth than detail”, says the New York Times, which notes that it is “so ambitious that Republicans greeted it with derision”.

The new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will be led by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), and raising public awareness of the issue will be a top priority; just 35 percent of Americans consider climate change an imminent threat.

The other Democratic members of the panel are Reps. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Donald McEachin (Va.) and Joe Neguse (Colo.).

Casten, Levin, and Neguse are freshmen.

Ocasio-Cortez is not among the special select committee — having been offered but turned down the position.

The proposal aims to create millions of jobs through a 10-year national mobilization. The resolution consists of a preamble, five goals, 14 projects, and 15 requirements.

The preamble establishes that there are two crises, a climate crisis and an economic crisis of wage stagnation and growing inequality and that the GND can address both.

The goals — achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, providing for a just transition, securing clean air and water — are broadly popular.

The projects — things like decarbonizing electricity, transportation, and industry, restoring ecosystems, upgrading buildings and electricity grids — are necessary and sensible (if also extremely ambitious).

There are a few items down in the requirements that might raise red flags (more on those later), but given the long road ahead, there will be plenty of time to sort them out. Overall, this is about as strong an opening bid as anyone could have asked for.

The resolution is “matched to the problem as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”.

It also “smartly avoids a few fights” such as calling for 100 percent “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” rather than a narrower 100 percent renewable goal.

Ocasio-Cortez has published a “factsheet” which contains some notable policy differences compared to the resolution.

Not all Democrats are on board with the plan and some have expressed more skepticism about slashing carbon emissions that quickly.

“I’m not sure a 10-year goal for carbon-free electricity is realistic,” said Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, adding that he had yet to read the draft. “And I used to be in the renewable power business,” he added, referring to his time as a wind-energy executive.

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