The Green New Deal and the Moral Urgency of Climate Change
It is well past the time to debate whether or not climate change is a reality. Every moment spent giving a platform to climate change deniers is a moment lost in preventing the steady rise in global temperatures. The widely-circulated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in 2018 concluded that to prevent 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit of warming, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 100% by 2050 . We must work tirelessly to promote bold, ambitious ideas like the Green New Deal (GND) in order to pass on a habitable planet to future generations.
An essential component of the activism surrounding the GND involves promoting plans that reduce the influence of fossil fuel industry donors on the political process. As of January, over 40 members of Congress have pledged not to receive campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry . More than $2 billion was spent between 2000 and 2016 lobbying against environmental legislation, with the fossil fuel industry, utility companies, and the transportation sector outspending environmental protection groups 10 to 1 . As much as members of Congress like to reassure voters that this money does not influence their votes, these industries do not spend such amounts without an expectation of support in return.
The GND is a set of policy proposals advanced by environmental activists that have been supported by lawmakers such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While still in the early stages of the legislative process, a non-binding resolution introduced by Ocasio-Cortez proposes several ambitious goals to be implemented over a 10-year period . These goals include a complete shift to renewable energy sources, the creation of millions of jobs in the renewable energy sector, large-scale investment in public transportation, the promotion of sustainable farming practices, and the modification of infrastructure to meet environmental standards . Importantly, the resolution acknowledges the unequal distribution of climate change. For example, rising food prices and the lasting effects of natural disasters disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities. Accordingly, the GND aims to promote “high-quality health care; affordable, safe, and adequate housing; economic security; and clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and access to nature” .
Climate change will lead to a mass movement of climate refugees, an unprecedented rise in sea levels, an increase in fighting over resources, and more powerful and frequent natural disasters. Studies show that wind and solar power alone can power 90-100% of the United States’ energy needs . It is time to put people over profits and act swiftly to address climate change - before it is simply too late to do so - by adopting policies that support the aims of the Green New Deal.
Davenport Coral. “Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040.” The New York Times, 7 October 2018.
“Pledge Signers in Congress.” No Fossil Fuel Money, 2017.
“Fossil Fuel Interests Have Outspent Environmental Advocates 10:1 on Climate Lobbying.” Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 19 July 2018.
“Resolution Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to Create a Green New Deal.” The United States House of Representatives of the 116th Congress. 7 February 2019.
Abraham, John. “Study: Wind and Solar Power can Power Most of the United States.” The Guardian, 26 March 2018.