Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and The Green New Deal

By Rachel Breslin

Despite our nation’s longest government shutdown, the House of Representatives’ Democratic-led Freshman class for the 116th Congress has created quite the stir and gave the United States the breath of fresh air we so desperately need.  The freshman that has created the most buzz is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York’s 14th District.  As the youngest woman to ever be elected to the House[1], she has become wildly popular among younger-Democratic generations, from promoting important issues to making politics more digestible and accessible through her Instagram live-streams.[2]

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that we as a planet have twelve years to make some serious changes to how we consume energy to limit the effects of global warming to moderate levels.[3]  In light of this, Ocasio-Cortez has become one of the main proponents behind the Green New Deal (“GND”), a title purposefully reminiscent of Roosevelt’s New Deal from the 1930’s.[4] Ocasio-Cortez helped bring the nation’s attention to the GND after teaming up with the Sunrise Movement, a group of youth activists dedicated to fighting climate change, to stage a sit-in in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding a committee be formed to combat the effects of climate change.[5] By the end of a second sit-in on December 10, forty members of Congress, including Bernie Sanders and presidential candidate Corey Brooker, had signed on in support of the committee.[6] A draft proposal for the committee is located on Ocasio-Cortez’s website.[7]

 

The GND is by no means the brain child of Ocasio-Cortez.  It is a combined effort of environmentalists, politicians, and other environmentally-conscious professionals that have been working to integrate climate change resilient provisions into all aspects of American society for years.[8] That does not make what Ocasio-Cortez and the GND are proposing any less impressive.  The proposed committee would be tasked with crafting a comprehensive plan to eliminate the United States’ reliance on fossil fuels and making us a 100% renewable energy powered country by 2030, along with accomplishing seven goals related to the decarbonization of our economy.[9] These seven goals are:

  1. Dramatically expand existing renewable power sources and deploy new production capacity with the goal of meeting 100% of national power demand through renewable sources;
  2. building a national, energy-efficient, “smart” grid;
  • upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety;
  1. eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries, including by investing in local-scale agriculture in communities across the country;
  2. eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure, and upgrading water infrastructure to ensure universal access to clean water;
  3. funding massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases; and
  • 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 greenhouse gas neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal.[10]

The committee would have until January 1, 2020 to complete their Plan for a Green New Deal.[11]

 

To put this impressive proposal briefly, the GND proposes an overhaul of how our society functions to be able to incorporate climate change resilient provisions that will significant decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.

 

For the bill itself, Ocasio-Cortez has teamed up with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass).[12]As of now, there is no set date for when it will be proposed. In the meantime, we will eagerly wait for a bill that even if half of its ideas are implemented, will significantly impact the lives of current and future generations around the world.

[1]Abigail Hess, 29-Year-Old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Makes History as the Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress, Wash. Post, Nov. 29, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/06/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-is-now-the-youngest-woman-elected-to-congress.html.

[2]Antonia Noori Farzan, The 2018 Version of Fireside Chats – People Can’t Get Enough of Watching Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Make Soup of Instagram, Wash. Post, Nov. 20, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/11/20/version-fireside-chats-people-cant-get-enough-watching-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-make-soup-instagram/?utm_term=.413eadd0fbec.

[3]See generally Int’l Panel on Climate Change, Global Warming of 1.5°C(2018).

[4]Heather Smith, What Is This Green New Deal Anyway?,Sierra Club, Nov. 28, 2018, https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/what-green-new-deal-anyway-alexandria-ocasio-cortez.

[5]Miranda Green, Ocasio-Cortez Joins Climate Change Sit-In at Pelosi’s Office, Hill, Nov. 13, 2018, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/416411-youth-protestors-fill-nancy-pelosis-office-demanding-climate-change.

[6]David Roberts, The Green New Deal, Explained, Vox, Jan. 7, 2019, https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/12/21/18144138/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez.

[7]Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Draft Text for Proposed Addendum to House Rule for 116th Congress of the United States, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jxUzp9SZ6-VB-4wSm8sselVMsqWZrSrYpYC9slHKLzo/edit(last visited February 2, 2019).

[8]Roberts,supra note 6.

[9]Ocasio-Cortez, supra note 7.

[10]Id. at § (a)(6)(A)(i)-(vii).

[11]Id. at § (a)(5)(B)(i).

[12]Sunlen Serfaty, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey To Unveil ‘Green New Deal’ Bill,CNN, Jan. 31, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/31/politics/green-new-deal-bill-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/index.html.

5 comments

  1. Great post, Rachel! With criticism coming from both the Republican politicians as well as fellow Democratic politicians, I am curious to see how this proposal will be furthered.

  2. Great post Rachel! It is very encouraging to read about the GND’s environmental initiatives. Even though a resolution, if passed, is not binding, the GND is helping to start a national conversation about climate change and how our government can mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions.

  3. I thought the addition of climate change as a “threat multiplier” in the Green New Deal was a great addition as it frames climate change in a different way. There are new reports indicating that climate change is a national security risk. I was intrigued that Democrats put this language in the resolution alongside the socioeconomic and environmental policies.

  4. Very interesting proposal and promising for the future. What are the chances that this proposal is accepted and actually begins to make a difference or will it just end as a publicity event? Either way it is good that such a proposal is being made.

  5. The Green New Deal has a lot of potential. The language utilized in the Green New Deal speaks of innovation and moving forward, as opposed to identifying negative environmental actors, which I think is very effective politically. I also think it is interesting that the New Deal states ambitious policy goals without mandating specific measures that need to be taken. This could leave a lot of room for innovation and creativity.

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