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Science and Technology, Law and Politics

The Green New Deal

And the politics of climate change

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WHAT IT IS

  • The Green New Deal was an initiative proposed to reduce the effects of climate change.

  • The plan alludes to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal established during the Great Depression. Learn about the New Deal here.

  • It was proposed by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in February 2019. [Bloomberg]

  • "It is the national security, economic, health-care and moral issue of our time," said Senator Markey. [The Washington Post]

  • Here is a look at the Green New Deal in its entirety from the U.S. Congress.

  • The Green New Deal aimed to impact a broad array of issues, including the economy, clean-energy-type jobs, health-care, and national security. [Vox]

  • The Green New Deal also aimed to help the U.S. stop creating greenhouse gases through fossil fuels. [The New York Times]

  • In order to accomplish its primary objectives, the proposal focused on disabled, poor and minority groups of people. [NPR]

  • The proposal was not a law but a "framework" or "policy package" that drew attention to and proposed solutions to climate issues in America. [NPR]

WHY IT MATTERS

 

CIVICS: Is climate change a homeland security issue? Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has an opinion

 

Numerous Democrats in Congress have favored the proposal, but some Republicans believe it has socialist roots. [The Washington Post]

 

Read a conservative approach to addressing climate change from MIT Technology Review.

PRO

Addressing real issues

At its most basic level, the deal aims to address climate change in America. [The Washington Post]

 

At its most complex level, the deal aims to

  • stimulate clean-energy-type jobs, 
  • halt America's dependency on fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases within 10 years,
  • improve U.S. infrastructure by altering transportation networks, and
  • ensure Americans have safe housing and clean water with a heavy focus on disabled, poor and minority groups of people.

[The Washington Post], [The New York Times], [NPR]

 

The real cost

The cost of the deal may have been exorbitant, but proponents said the financial implications of climate change could be larger. [The New York Times]

 

 

Let's talk

The Green New Deal prompted political discussions about the environment, which some believe is a beneficial first step. [The New York Times]

 

Some believe the deal could reshape the way policymakers consider climate reform. [NowThis]

CON

Too open-ended

The Green New Deal recommends a 10-year-plan for improving the national climate and landscape. However, some feel it leaves many questions unanswered on implementation and follow-through. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

 

House leader Nacy Pelosi (D) was quoted as saying the policy package was "the green dream." [USA Today]

 

 

Too polarizing

Some leading members of the Democratic party thought the bill was "too ambitious" and was unable to gain support members of the Republican party. [USA Today]

 

 

Too expensive

Opponents say the cost of the deal makes it unrealistic. One organization studying the bill found it could cost as much as $93 million. [Bloomberg]

 

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said "there's no way to pay for" it. [USA Today]

 

 

Trying too hard

While the Green New Deal focused on environmental reform, critics said it lacked focus and is too tied to policy decisions.

 

One policy, a federal jobs guarantee, could be viewed as overly ambitious. [The Washington Post]

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WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • Mar. 2019: After passing in the House of Representatives, the measure failed 57-0, with all Republicans and 4 Democrats voting it down. [The Washington Post]
  • At the time of voting, 82% of Americans heard "nothing at all" about the Green New Deal. [Yale Program on Climate Change Communication] 
  • It is now a major talking point for Democratic presidential candidates.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Donate to politicians dedicated to The Green New Deal with We The Peeps.
  • According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, the overwhelming majority of registered voters in America supported the Green New Deal. So, why did Congress fail to pass the bill?
  • December 2018 survey revealed that 69% of Americans are "Somewhat" or "Very Worried" about the impacts of climate change. [Yale University] Why is the American government inactive about addressing this major public concern?

  • Led by a group of young activists, The Sunrise Movement joined in announcing the deal as a sign of full support. What could you show active support for in your community? 

Key Vocabulary