What You Need to Know About the Green New Deal

It’s been just over a year since Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a detailed document detailing just how the Democratic Party planned to turn its catchphrase of combating climate change and inequality into reality. (As Vox reported, the Senate voted down that initial resolution on March 26, 2019.)

The Green New Deal—versions of which have been at least partially backed by almost every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate—hasn’t gained much political momentum due to the fact that the specifics of the legislation have been somewhat ill-defined and at odds with the agenda of the Trump administration.

However, following Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcertti’s recent decision to executively sign a Green New Deal into action for the city, the 14-page resolution—which outlines the party’s plan to simultaneously grow the economy and lower rates of poverty by investing in new green jobs and the growth of energy-efficient infrastructure and renewable energy sources—is back in the limelight.

There is a lot to unpack in the document, so to sum things up, here are the main takeaways from the Green New Deal.

 

Surprisingly, the 10-year plan didn’t include any express plans for bans or specific regulations on existing industries.

Interestingly enough, the resolution made no mention of combatting climate change by imposing taxes on high-pollution industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation. Instead, the document showed that the authors are choosing to focus their resources on financing green industries.

In addition to investing money in the development of energy-efficient vehicles, transportation, building, and electric sources, the government would work with leaders in the agriculture industry to develop more sustainable farming practices.

The more detailed version of the Green New Deal resolution also noted that the U.S. will “[meet] 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” during the proposed 10-year period.

 

The resolution also outlined plans to shrink the wage gap.

Markey and Ocasio-Cortez also shared the significant economic implications of the legislation, claiming that the Green New Deal could help stimulate the economy and bridge the wage gap by creating millions of new high-paying jobs.

The document didn’t shy away from some of Ocasio-Cortez’s other well-known talking points, including making sure that everyone has access to “high-quality healthcare.” It’s unclear if this means Medicare for All (which Ocasio-Cortez supports).

In addition to affordable housing for all workers and access to higher education, the plan also touched on how the government will protect unions and workers’ rights (including creating new unionized jobs) and that every worker will be guaranteed living wages, retirement, and leave.

 

The Green New Deal didn’t reveal exactly how the government would pay for the new initiatives if implemented.

One of the biggest critiques of the Green New Deal resolution is that it didn’t outline how its authors plan to fund it, or how much it’ll cost taxpayers.

The New York Times reported that the full cost of implementing the Green New Deal is still impossible to determine because of a wide variety of factors, but that it will be very expensive.

While Ocasio-Cortez and Markey don’t share these particulars in their statement, NBC News reported that Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a blog post, “The question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what is the cost of inaction, and what will we do with our new shared prosperity created by the investments in the Green New Deal.”

The document also argued that “climate change constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States.”

 

While many Democratic candidates have publicly expressed their general support for it, the more detailed version of the Green New Deal has already experienced some speed bumps since it was introduced.

Back on March 26, the Republican-led Senate voted down the resolution, but Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats have continued to work on other climate change legislation.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is now running for president, said in March 2019 that Ocasio-Cortez’s plan “stands no change” after calling it a “pie in the sky” proposition. He revealed that he was planning to pen his own version of a climate change game plan.

“The idea of a Green New Deal—first suggested by the columnist Tom Friedman more than a decade ago—stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years,” he wrote in an op-ed published by Bloomberg. “But Mother Nature does not wait on our political calendar, and neither can we.”

 

With the Senate currently controlled by the Republican Party and the anti-regulation policies of the Trump administration, it’s unlikely that voters will see anything from the Green New Deal implemented in the near future. However, with the election just around the corner, it’s likely that facets of the deal will be up for discussion as the Democratic candidates share what they plan to do about climate change in the upcoming debates and in the months leading up to November.