What is the Green New Deal?
On Tuesday, Dec. 3, I attended the West Shore FaCT (Faith Communities Together for a Sustainable Future) presentation with speaker, Patrick Murray, at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church. Mr. Murray is the convener of the NEO Coalition for a Green New Deal and along with being a medical doctor for 26 years, he has worked throughout his life on social, economic and racial justice.
Mr. Murray presented and spoke about the Green New Deal proposed legislation, U.S. House Resolution 109. The Green New Deal is comprised of two sets of goals, the first being the production of clean energy to reduce carbon emissions to slow climate change and the second being to focus on solutions to poverty, unaffordable healthcare and infrastructure needs. The Green New Deal legislation sets goals and projects to be accomplished over a 10-year national mobilization effort.
The most pressing, important goal is to get the United States to zero carbon emissions. The United States is one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide currently, and consequently we also have a chance to lead the world to change it.
Why is this so urgent? The world emits 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. If we continue on this course, the International Panel on Climate Change has estimated that we have only 15 years left before the point of no return. The IPCC is part of the United Nations and it was established in 1988. Their most recent report recommended that it is important to keep the climate change within 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than the 2 degrees previously recommended.
To keep climate change to 1.5 degrees, global carbon emissions need to be cut in half by 2030 and eliminated altogether by 2050. The good news? This is possible. We have the technology to accomplish this. What is holding us back? Take a good guess: money.
There is estimated to be 2.7 trillion tons of potential carbon emissions in the ground still. These “resources” are owned by companies and these “assets” are currently valued to be in the tens of trillions of dollars. Guess what? If we go to zero emissions, these assets will be worth absolutely nothing.
The Green New Deal outlines the urgency with which the United States needs to take action to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions. The plan outlines ways to accomplish this that will benefit every person living in the United States. The Green New Deal would appoint a select committee to draft a plan that accomplishes the national mobilization required to get to the 10-year goal.
The five goals of the GND are: 1. Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers; 2. Create millions of good, high-wage jobs; 3. Invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States; 4. Ensure a sustainable environment for all; and 5. Promote justice and equity in historically oppressed vulnerable communities.
My bet is you are wondering how can we do all that? It seems overwhelming and too much and too radical. But guess what? Our country has united for a common goal before, called The New Deal. We united and underwent dramatic change to fight World War II. The United States passed the War Powers Act of 1941 just 11 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The New Deal gave the president a great deal of authority to execute WWII, and the entire U.S. economy was converted to accomplish the goal. This meant higher taxes, war bonds, rationing of food, and conversion of manufacturing to war materials. The percentage of federal spending of the total U.S. economy went from 10% to 40%! (Currently, federal spending is about 20% of our economy.)
In his presentation, Patrick Murray laid out a great case that because our country united in a single effort for WWII, it is absolutely possible to unite again to save our environmental future, which really means our future in general.
Yes, this is radical. No, I wasn’t sure before attending his talk about how I felt about the Green New Deal, but his presentation was very persuasive that without radical change such as the Green New Deal, it is very likely that climate change will pass the point of no return.
Do scientists know for sure what will happen? Of course not – but it is in our best interest to believe them and make changes accordingly.
What are the other benefits of lessening and zeroing out our carbon emissions? Immediate health benefits. Air pollution will be reduced dramatically, significantly improving the quality of our air. How do we get people on board with the Green New Deal? A social movement needs to be built and developed with about 3% of our population getting on board.
What can you do locally to help the movement? Here are some ideas from Mr. Murray:
- Educate locally about the urgency and magnitude of the problem by writing letters to the editor, talking to friends, family and neighbors, and any other way you can think of;
- Support a "green bank" to fund renewable development in Cuyahoga County;
- Support public transit;
- Speak to your local government about making green investments such as retrofitting buildings to be zero-emission by installing solar panels and heating alternatives, replacing city cars with electric and building a local food infrastructure. Encouraging local municipalities to lead by example is a huge step in the right direction.
How can we pay for all of this? Isn’t that the million (or billion) dollar question?! Come find out at the next West Shore FaCT presentation on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 7:00 p.m. It will be held again at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd. in Rocky River. Andres Bernal will be the speaker, and will present about how to fund the Green New Deal. He is a research fellow at the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and he is currently the Outreach Officer for the Modern Money Network, among many other qualifications he has. I hope I see you there!