A Green New Deal has become the Hot New Idea for climate policy. Organizations of the millennial generation — including the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats — brought the concept to wide public awareness in November 2018, with a sit-in in House Democratic Leader (now Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s Washington office.
It has since become the subject of a resolution sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) with more than 90 cosponsors in the House and a dozen in the Senate (including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar).
The actual substance of the Green New Deal is still undefined. The Ocasio-Cortez/Markey resolution is more a statement of goals and principles than a policy document. That’s not a problem right now. Political realities being what they are, advocates have some time to work out how to achieve those goals. In the meantime, widespread endorsement should be read as support of the general approach, rather than a specific set of policies.
In general, however, the Green New Deal approach is an ambitious everything-it-will-take climate policy that would include a massive public investment program leading to the creation of millions of new jobs converting the American economy to a clean-energy system. It has two clear advantages over other climate policy ideas:
- It gets the scale of the problem right. Climate policy poses a world-historical threat to human society, and half-measures like renewable tax credits and LED lightbulbs are never going to meet that challenge.
- Linking climate mitigation to job creation directly addresses public concern about the economic impact of climate policy, making the case that there are widespread economic benefits from tackling the issue in the right way.
Resources for getting started
- A Green New Deal, a report by Data for Progress, is one of the earliest and clearest explanations of the concept.
- H. Res. 109, the Green New Deal resolution introduced on Feb. 7, 2019 by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. (Sen. Markey’s S. Res. 59 is identical.)
- David Roberts of Vox has been covering the Green New Deal extensively. A trio of his posts provide a good introduction:
Carbon Taxes and the Green New Deal
We at the Carbon Tax Center are excited by the vision of a Green New Deal and the energy with which its proponents and adherents are advancing it. We are intrigued by the vast potential synergies of combining the price signaling of carbon taxing and the societal mobilization implicit in the Green New Deal.
In particular, we believe a carbon tax can and should be a key part of any Green New Deal package. CTC Policy Associate Bob Narus has written two blog posts on the nexus between a carbon tax and the Green New Deal concept:
- In Carbon Tax Advocates Should Embrace a Green New Deal, posted in March. He notes that a carbon tax has been a tough sell, and even a robust tax will no longer achieve the massive emission reductions the IPCC says we need, unless coupled with direct clean-energy investments.
- Green New Dealers Should Embrace a Carbon Tax, Bob’s complementary post from April, explains why the ambitious goals of a Green New Deal will likely be out of reach without a carbon tax to provide the powerful price pull.
The Carbon Tax Center will continue to cover the Green New Deal movement as it progresses.