By Anders Lorenzen
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the hottest star in the US Democrats, has, together with Senator Edward Markey, launched what they call a ‘Green New Deal’. The highly ambitious proposal sets out to eliminate US greenhouse gas emissions within a decade. It is seen as the first formal attempt by US lawmakers to create large government-led invests in clean energy, shifting the US economy away from fossil fuels.
The plan would be non-binding and represent some of the most aggressive climate targets ever proposed by Democratic lawmakers. It would also clash with US President Donald Trump own views on the issue as he has been busy undoing all of former President Barack Obama’s efforts on tackling climate change.
The resolution could lay the pathway for the direction of travel in the Democratic party. So far it has 64 House co-sponsors and nine Senate sponsors. Crucially four of whom are Democratic presidential hopefuls for 2020. Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Corey Booker and Elizabeth Warren co-sponsored the resolution.
The plan outlines several goals for the US, including meeting 100 per cent of power demand from zero-emission energy sources like wind and solar within 10 years. It also calls for new projects to modernize U.S. transportation infrastructure, cut carbon emissions from the manufacturing and agricultural sectors as well as make buildings and homes more energy efficient and increase land preservation.
The Green New Deal intends to abide by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which dictated that global temperature rise must be kept less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid the most severe impacts of a changing climate. It also aims to create an economic safety net for communities that will be affected by the impacts of climate change and the shift away from fossil fuel use, including through guarantees of healthcare, jobs, and jobs training. It will help workers transition away from fossil fuel jobs to the jobs that will power the clean energy transition. Little detail, however, has yet been providing on how it might be achieved.
Ocasio-Cortez said: “Today is the day that we choose to assert ourselves as a global leader in transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy and charting that path.” She said she will now begin the work on the legislation which will determine the projects involved in the plan.
The plan, though, faces an uphill struggle. Even if it were to pass in the Democratic-led House, which is still unlikely as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to give her blessings to the plan, it will most certainly be defeated in the Republican-led Senate.
Upon the Democrats taking control of the House, a protest led by the group the Sunrise Movement and Ocasio-Cortez sought to put pressure on Pelosi to take an ambitious climate stance. This resulted in Pelosi promising she would re-instate a climate committee that was abolished by the Republicans when they won control of the House during the Obama era. Pelosi had invited Ocasio-Cortez to sit on that committee; she declined. Pelosi has yet to endorse the Green New Deal proposal saying it is just one of many ideas. This points to a possible rift in the party about what the direction of travel should be in tackling this critical issue before it’s too late.