Opinion: The Green New Deal is harming the possibility of bipartisanship on climate change

 

Photo credit: The Sunrise Movement. A climate protest directed towards Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Led by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey, the first serious answer to Donald Trump’s attack on climate change action and environmental protection, The Green New Deal was unveiled earlier this month.

It is welcome to see that a growing number of Democrats see climate change as a more and more pressing threat that requires urgent action.

It is just a shame that this particular deal has no hope of passing and it hasn’t even been endorsed by Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.

And one could even draw the analogy that this is more an attempt to annoy Republicans than urgently deal with the climate change and move to a low-carbon energy future.

They could have drawn up a bill that focused more on infrastructure investments and creating clean energy jobs. But instead, they had to do it in such a way which divided the country even more by connecting with socialism and leftist policies. As it stands, very few Republicans could support this bill, even amongst those who are serious about tackling climate change. Bizarrely the bill seems to connect climate change with other leftist policies.

Alongside calling for 100% renewable energy within ten years it also has several economic inequality policies such as working benefits, universal healthcare, free higher education, affordable and safe housing, workplace protections and affordable food. This very much runs the risk of confusing and conflating the issues and the way this has been put together, little thought seems to have been put into it and it lacks the understanding of policy.

Never before have I seen a climate plan like it and Democrats supporting it are playing a risky game. Of course, if you’re a Democrat and do not support it, you run the risk of being labelled a climate denier by the Democratic hard left. But if you’re a Democrat there’s a valid reason to not support this approach and still be very keen to tackle climate change.

There are also good arguments to suggest that had all the social policies been left out, and if it was purely a climate bill, than it would have a much higher chance of gaining bipartisan support and thus passing in both chambers.

In addition, it lacks clarity. It has no policy – just a few targets. It is all very easy to throw in a 100 renewable energy target within ten years, but how to get there is the hard part. In addition, tweaking the language and putting a higher emphasis on projects important to the country which will create jobs and modernise the economy would again increase the chances of it gaining support.

Without major changes and improvements, this bill is doomed to fail. It stinks of inexperience and having been put together by people who not understanding how energy policy works. It, of course, has all the right ingredients and agendas looking at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest report and why we need to act. It is just that something went wrong when the ingredients were mixed together.

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