As newly-elected New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continues to stir things up in Congress, she has announced the blueprint of her signature “Green New Deal,” a plan for fighting against the looming ravages of climate change as well as addressing economic, social, and racial injustice, according to the Guardian.
The sweeping, ambitious plan calls for the U.S. to achieve a carbon-neutral economy within a decade, a change that would require a historic re-engineering of the way the nation uses gas and oil. The document points out the dire nature of climate change – with scientists saying massive changes are just 10 to 12 years away – by calling it the “duty” of the government to “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” and change over the U.S. system entirely to relying instead on “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”
The blueprint takes a broad, intersectional view of the challenges facing the U.S., addressing not only climate change but also calling for universal healthcare, a jobs guarantee, and free higher education – a program that in today’s political climate might be even more ambitious than FDR’s original New Deal.
However, Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort of insurgent Democrats have clearly already moved the ball on what is open for discussion in Washington. For instance, Medicare for All is quickly becoming a litmus test for Dems with presidential ambitions in 2020.
But AOC, as she is known, says that big problems require bold thinking.
“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” Ocasio-Cortez said, according to NPR. “It could be part of a larger solution, but no one has actually scoped out what that larger solution would entail. And so that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish with the Green New Deal.”
While the resolution’s co-sponsors count 60 members of the House of Representatives and nine Senators – among them a number of presidential hopefuls – even staffers who helped draft the plan acknowledge that actually implementing it would require a “massive” investment.
Not only that, with a Republican-controlled Senate and a president who is seemingly against acknowledging that climate change is real – President Donald Trump didn’t even mention climate change in his 82-minute State of the Union address – any legislation crafted from the plan would likely be dead on arrival.
Still, perhaps for the first time on a national scale, the Green New Deal blueprint explicitly addresses the intersection of environmental issues and social and economic injustices by pointing out that poorer communities and communities of color bear the brunt of environmental damage inflicted by climate change and bad actors among businesses. Those are the communities, the document says, that are hardest hit by declining life expectancy, pollution exposure, and limited access to healthy food.
By pointing out the disproportionate damage done to those communities and the people living in them due to environmental malfeasance, sponsors of the Green New Deal blueprint see it as a bold, but necessary and long-overdue first step.
“This is a moment for us to push a comprehensive view of the challenge before us, and therefore to offer the solution that we need to address that challenge,” said Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
“We really need an urgent and comprehensive approach,” she added.