Congress And States Should Enact A Green New Deal

Above photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Green Party of the United States is urging Congress and state legislatures to adopt a Green New Deal (GND) to respond to the climate emergency while committing to a full employment, sustainable economy.

Howie Hawkins’ Green Party campaign for Governor in New York in 2010 was the first time a comprehensive Green New Deal agenda was promoted in the United States. It was based on a call for a Green New Deal in Europe developed a few years previously by the European Greens and others. The GND was a central focus of Jill Stein’s two Green Party presidential campaigns in 2012 and 2016.

Green Party members and supporters participated in the December 10 national day of action by the Sunrise movement and others to urge Congress to adopt the Green New Deal resolution supported by Congresswomen-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and others. While many candidates in 2018 used the phrase the Green New Deal to highlight that a transition to renewable energy would help create living wage jobs, AOC’s proposal for a plan for 100% clean energy by 2030, single payer health care and other economic measures comes much closer to the GND developed by the Green Party.

What is still left out is the necessity of reducing the size of the Military Industrial Complex and termination of its imperial agenda. AOC’s proposal also needs to be expanded, including an immediate halt to any new fossil fuel infrastructure, a focus on public ownership and democratic control of the energy systems, and paying for it by enacting a cut of 50% or more in the military budget.

The Green Party and AOC both call for a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. It would ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work. Funding would also be targeted to low-income and communities of color most harmed by climate change.

Green Parties across the planet have used their role as junior partners in several national governments to push for climate initiatives such as enactment of carbon taxes. They are ready to connect Congressional Democrats with Green Party elected officials in other countries to explain how they can use their new role as junior partners in our federal government to move our country to enact their emergency mobilization needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently said that world needed in the next 12 years an unprecedented worldwide mobilization to avoid climate collapse. The Greens noted that previous IPCC reports have all significantly underestimate the severity and speed of global warming and extreme weather.

The Greens faulted the national Democrats for recently reversing their position to stop taking campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. The Greens also urged the Democrats to work to block any new fossil fuel infrastructure development. Such projects are routinely rubberstamped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Senate just approved a climate denier to chair FERC. The Democrats are also considering make a coal proponent, Senator Manchin, the senior Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

President Obama took the wrong approach, promoting an all-of-the-above approach to energy that heavily developed fossil fuels including oil and fracking of natural gas while giving tepid support to renewables. That put the United States at least a decade behind Europe for instance on offshore wind.

In 2018, Green Party candidates across the country ran for state offices calling for a Green New Deal to move to 100% clean energy by 2030. The Greens also called for states to divest public pension funds and bank accounts from fossil fuel companies; to enact state carbon taxes to make polluters pay for the damages from burning fossil fuels; and, to publicly own and develop renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal.

With the Trump administration led by climate deniers in bed with the fossil fuel industry, it is critical that state and local governments pick up the challenge of stopping the burning of fossil fuels. But most Democrats and big environmental groups continue to push incremental steps on climate change that provide a false illusion of progress.

One of the key warnings from the IPCC was that we need to lower the target to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than the old 2-degree target. This requires average cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of around 10% annually, yet many in the US still promote a timeline of 2050 to cut emissions by 80 to 100%.

The Green Party agrees that a Green New Deal is an urgent necessity. The specifics of that Green New Deal matter, if it is to effectively mitigate the climate crisis and address historic injustices. This is a time for valuing the knowledge and expertise of Green Party members and elected officials to achieve those goals.