Trump-era politics have put environmental policy on the back burner of national news, policy, and conversation. To many, his cutting of environmental regulations, monitoring, and funding (just to name a few of his environmentally deteriorating decisions) spell out doom for humanity’s race against climate change. However, new hope may be on the way to Congress.
Last Tuesday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young Latina democratic socialist, beat Joe Crowley, a longtime US representative and democratic party leader, in the New York primaries. It was a win that CNN deemed “the most shocking upset of a rollicking political season.” She is almost certain to continue on to Congress to represent the state’s overwhelmingly blue 14th district. Although we won’t speak on the rest of her policies, her environmental agenda which she dubs the “Green New Deal” could begin making the environment a political priority once again.
One of the best things about Ocasio-Cortez’s victory may be pushing tough environmental policies back onto the national stage. Especially when most sitting Democrats in congress have not been pushing the issue as aggressively as scientists deem necessary. In fact, Ocasio-Cortez’s plan is the only one that strictly abides by the scientific consensus on the timeline in which we must take action to prevent catastrophic climate events. Her plan would be the most progressive to date of any current congressperson. Will Congress be receptive to her ideas? It’s too soon to say, but environmental enthusiasts should take comfort that Ocasio-Cortez will help revitalize momentum toward environmentally conscious legislation.
“We need more environmental hardliners in Congress,” she told In These Times magazine last week. “We need a Marshall Plan for renewable energy in the United States. The idea that the Democratic Party needs to be moderate is what’s holding us back on this.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s environmental goal listed out in her plan is actually in agreement with the 1,400 U.S. mayors who pledged to convert their cities to zero-emission energy sources by 2035 after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. However, this only accounts for 41% of the country’s electricity use; Ocasio-Cortez seeks to make that number 100% with her New Green Deal.
With a degree in economics, her plan heavily relies on shifting economic structure to support sustainable energy sources.
“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan,” she told the Huffington Post.
To put it simply, Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal would follow in FDR’s footsteps of economic stimulus but be dedicated to building a more environmentally sustainable country, complete with modernized high-paying jobs for Americans whose livelihoods may be threatened by global climate change.
“We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy, but this time green energy,” she said.
The Green New Deal has many obstacles in its path before it might see the light of day, or more importantly floor of congress but hopefully the success of it’s championer will help inspire more Democrats and Republicans to take environmental policy seriously and incorporate it into their agenda’s.
You can read Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s full plan below:
In order to address runaway global climate change, Alexandria strongly supports transitioning the United States to a carbon-free, 100% renewable energy system and a fully modernized electrical grid by 2035. She believes renewable fuels must be produced in a way that achieves our environmental and energy security goals, so we can move beyond oil responsibly in the fight against climate change. By encouraging the electrification of vehicles, sustainable home heating, distributed rooftop solar generation, and the conversion of the power grid to zero-emissions energy sources, Alexandria believes we can be 100% free of fossil fuels by 2035.
Furthermore, Alex believes in recognizing the relationship between economic stability and environmental sustainability. It’s time to shift course and implement a Green New Deal – a transformation that implements structural changes to our political and financial systems in order to alter the trajectory of our environment. Right now, the economy is controlled by big corporations whose profits are dependent on the continuation of climate change. This arrangement benefits few, but comes at the detriment of our planet and all its inhabitants. Its effects are life-threatening, and are especially already felt by low-income communities, both in the U.S. and globally. Even in NY-14, areas like Throgs Neck, College Point, and City Island are being affected by erosion and rising sea levels. Rather than continue a dependency on this system that posits climate change as inherent to economic life, the Green New Deal believes that radically addressing climate change is a potential path towards a more equitable economy with increased employment and widespread financial security for all.
Climate change is the single biggest national security threat for the United States and the single biggest threat to worldwide industrialized civilization, and the effects of warming can be hard to predict and self-reinforcing. We need to avoid a worldwide refugee crisis by waging a war for climate justice through the mobilization of our population and our government. This starts with the United States being a leader on the actions we take both globally and locally.
By Bianca Vierra, Earth.com Contributing Writer
Image Credit: Ocasio2018 Campaign