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How to Build the Green New Deal? Cities and States May Already Have Answers

How to Build the Green New Deal? Cities and States May Already Have Answers

There’s much to learn from local efforts — and good reasons why they’ll need to be part of the process, experts say. But can states do it on their own?

Over the past several months, legislators in Washington have engaged in heated conversations about the Green New Deal, the potential plan to help the United States to cool the planet by quickly and equitably curbing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

The hotly debated idea has both vocal supporters and detractors. But even for those who champion the mission, there’s still a lot to figure out about how it would be developed and implemented.

The good news is that any effort to bring the Green New Deal to fruition wouldn’t need to start from scratch. Proponents can, and should, look to states and cities for help and inspiration, says Caitlin McCoy, a fellow at Harvard Law School who specializes in in climate, clean air and energy. McCoy just authored a new policy paper that shows areas where state and local governments have been leading and how understanding their progress is crucial to crafting any new sweeping federal legislation.

“States are an experimental testing ground for policies that could one day be adopted at a federal level,” she says. Green New Deal backers, she adds, “would be wise to do an accounting of what’s happening at a state and local level and see where they might be able to plug federal policies and programs into existing architecture and frameworks. And any big federal policy to operationalize the principles of the Green New Deal would necessarily need to build on state action, because a lot of the areas that the deal seems to be seeking to reach are areas of traditional state and local control.”

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