Friday, February 8, 2019

Yes we need a Green New Deal (and no, it isn’t funny)

The “Green New Deal” has come into sharper focus with the publication of a draft Congressional resolution (not yet formally introduced and numbered at this writing, text available here) by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey which, if adopted, would set out the principles for further legislation. 
(If you aren’t familiar with it, “Green New Deal” is a label given to the idea that the U.S. should embark on a massive investment program to build a green economy that wards off the looming disasters of Climate Change while creating new jobs and promoting social equity.)
The Green New Deal is probably creating more excitement in the right-wing media than anywhere else, with coverage alternating between outrage (socialism!) and mockery (especially of their favorite cover girl, OCA).
In my opinion, the Green New Deal makes great sense as an organizing concept for a whole bunch of stuff that we need to do and can do that will make us a better, fairer, more prosperous, and more sustainable nation, ready for the climate travails coming in the second half of this century.
The goals of the Green New Deal, as set out by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey in their resolution, are:
“(A) to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers; (B) to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States; (C) to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century; (D) to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come – (i) clean air and water; (ii) climate and community resiliency; (iii) healthy food; (iv) access to nature; and (v) a sustainable environment; and (E) to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”
Scary stuff, huh?
What does this mean for the transportation sector?  The goal set out by the resolution is:
“overhauling transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in – (i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation; and (iii) high-speed rail.”
Obviously a lot more can be said and needs to be said about how transportation fits into the broader picture.  But I’m glad the concept of the Green New Deal is providing a focus for the debate on how to prepare for Climate Change – a subject I don’t find very funny.