To fully and systematically address the climate/energy crisis, the plan will have to be far broader in scope than what is currently being proposed. And while we need to mobilize society as a whole with a World War II-level of effort, the reality is that there’s never been a challenge like this before.
(Image: Michael Duffy)
The idea is infectious. Could a big government jobs and spending program succeed in kicking into gear the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and ultimately save us from catastrophic climate change? The energy transition is currently going way too slowly; it needs money and policy support. And many people would need job retraining in order to work in re-engineered, renewable-powered industrial systems. In the 1930s, the New Deal programs of Franklin Roosevelt helped create jobs while also building critical infrastructure, including rural electrification, roads, bridges, and government buildings. Today, as we confront the requirements to produce energy sustainably; to use it differently in transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture; and to reverse the current trend toward increasing economic inequality—in effect, to save and reinvent industrial civilization—the need is arguably much greater.
The public champions of the Green New Deal (GND) in the U.S. include Democratic progressive representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Deb Haaland, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Antonio Delgado. The idea is also supported by writer-activists Naomi Klein and Van Jones; by the Green Parties in the US and Europe; and by the Sierra Club, 350.org, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Climate Mobilization. The proposals currently circulating in Washington aim to provide 100 percent renewable energy in 10 to 20 years while supporting job retraining and aiding communities impacted by climate change. Some proposals also include a carbon tax (often with a fee-and-dividend structure that would rebate funds to low-income people so they could afford more costly energy services), incentives for green investment, public banks, measures to re-regulate the financial system, and the first steps toward a global Marshall Plan.
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