Taking the principles of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Green New Deal is a non-binding resolution that proposes a path to a total clean energy transition that intends to stimulate the economy and revitalize the American middle-class by generating millions of high-wage, unionized jobs. The resolution, proposed by House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey, is informed by two reports published in 2018 by the UN and federal scientists warning of the dire consequences of global temperature rise. While this is not exactly new, backing from the recently elected Representative Ocasio-Cortez, and the Sunrise Movement, has catapulted this ambitious solution to climate change into the political spotlight and made it a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates.
As a non-binding resolution, the goals outlined in the document, including a 10 year national mobilization, is the “Green New Deal mobilization” designed to achieve the “Green New Deal goals.” These are 14 goals committing the U.S. to funding local climate solutions, 100% renewable energy, green upgrades to infrastructure and transit, smart power grids, a shift to clean manufacturing and industry, support for family farming and sustainable agriculture, sustainable food systems, and a huge push for soil carbon storage through ecosystem preservation and afforestation.
Like the social programs of Roosevelt’s wartime New Deal, which was in equal parts ambitious and successful, the Green New Deal places a priority on public programs and worker protection, especially healthcare, labor laws, environmental protections and education. However, it also takes a step further in hopes of addressing what it calls “systemic injustices” to “frontline and vulnerable communities.” This calls for involving those most impacted by climate change — indigenous people, communities of color, and rural former-industrial states — in developing local solutions and shaping the mobilization effort.
The resolution faced and continues to face a mixed reception, with overwhelming support from progressive Democrats, overwhelming rejection by the Republican Party (including a misinformation campaign), and caution from centrist Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. However, whether or not the Green New Deal moves forward into law, it has certainly created a national conversation on climate change.