How to Report on the Green New Deal

by January 28, 2019

The Green New Deal plans to tackle climate change by creating more renewable energy-related jobs and technology. (Photo credit to Pexels)

The Green New Deal proposes investing in more green jobs and technology in hopes of combating climate change.

The U.S. is one of of the top emitter of carbons, just below China, the number one polluter of more carbon dioxide than the U.S. and the U.K. combined. (India will overtake the U.S. by 2030, according to Bloomberg.) Global warming is a source of concern on the world scale, overtaking records by the year. The U.S. backed out of the Paris climate agreement in 2016. 

Last year, a climate change report by 13 federal agencies found that “record-setting hot years are expected to become common in the near future.” In addition, a 2018 UN study warned of both human and environmental consequences, recommending further action to prevent climate change, including moving away from coal-based power.

President Trump has dismissed these warnings.

Ocasio-Cortez’s Proposal

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an outspoken voice on this issue, championing it during her first week of orientation. She and other protesters, comprised of activist groups Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, rallied outside of then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office to pressure the Democratic Party to do more about climate change.

Now as Speaker of the House, Pelosi plans to revive a special house committee dedicated to climate change. Pelosi started a similar committee 11 years ago, but it was disassembled by the Republican Party after taking the House 7 years ago. Given the Democratic majority in the House, they hope to push back against President Trump’s anti-climate change agenda, given the United Nations’ recent report.

But Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters do not think this is enough. Ocasio-Cortez ran against her Republican opponent, Anthony Pappas, on a platform advocating for tuition-free college, Medicare for All and other progressive values, such as getting corporate money out of politics.

A major part of her platform, however, was the Green New Deal. According to her campaign website, Ocasio-Cortez supports “transitioning the United States to a carbon-free, 100% renewable energy system and a fully modernized electrical grid by 2035.”

The Green New Deal’s outline is as follows:

“(1) 100% of national power generation from renewable sources;
(2) Building a national, energy-efficient, “smart” grid;
(3) Upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety;
(4) Decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries;
(5) Decarbonizing, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure;
(6) Funding massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases;
(7) Making “green” technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely carbon neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal.”

(taken from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 campaign website)

The Green New Deal plans to invest more in green technology, which includes alternative energy resources to carbon, such as solar panels and electric vehicles.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. has a little over 2 million industries of green goods and services. Its definition of “green jobs” include producing environmentally-friendly goods and services, from developing technology to transferring environmental waste.

Employment growth in these areas is projected to grow significantly, especially builders/maintenance workers of renewable energy systems and environmental scientists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, new positions in these jobs may not rise as high. and more than fossil fuel-related jobs.

According to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, there are more than 1.9 million people employed by “Electric Power Generation and Fuels technologies.” 55 percent of these workers were in the traditional energy sectors (i.e. coal, gas and oil), and the rest work in alternative energy (i.e. solar, wind, natural gas, nuclear, etc.)

The select committee planned to complete a plan by January 1 in 2020. They also proposed to complete a “finalized draft legislation” by March 1 of that same year, according to Ocasio-Crotez’s proposal. A draft resolution was released by Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign chief of staff on Twitter.

As of yet, the Green New Deal hasn’t quite begun, but it’s drawn support mainly from Democrats, particularly from 2020 candidates, such as Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke, with environmentalists groups calling for Sen. Kamala Harris, who recently announced her candidacy, to endorse the deal.  Sunrise Movement is plans to meet with 2020 candidates to lobby for support. 

More than 600 environmental groups wrote to Congress, petitioning similar comprehensive legislation.

On an international scale, a United Nations Climate Summit is planned for 2019. But now, it’s a while before the Green New Deal gets off the ground. 

Questions to ask:

How many green jobs are in your area? How does that compare to traditional energy-related jobs? Where are each located and how many employees are there?

Will the Green New Deal create more jobs? 

What green technology is already out there? What’s being planned?

Back to the basics:

What is climate change and its effects? NASA, the IPCC and the EPA provide comprehensive information. FiveThirtyEight also published an article about what climate change currently looks like in 2018. The Reynolds Center has also published a few articles about this issue, including the problems climate change causes for agriculture.

How much of CO2 is the U.S. now emitting? The EPA has detailed statistics about greenhouse gas emissions, while major oil and gas company BP also publishes data on world energy sources by country.

Correction: An earlier draft of this post misidentified Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a senator from New York. She is a member of the House of Representatives.