The focus of progressive U.S. climate policy has moved decisively since late 2018 to a Green New Deal — an ambitious everything-it-will-take climate policy built around a massive public investment program leading to the creation of millions of new jobs converting the American economy to a clean-energy system.
The Green New Deal idea burst into public awareness in November 2018 with a sit-in in House Democratic Leader (now Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s Washington office by millenial organizations including the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats.
A subsequent Green New Deal resolution sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) attracted 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. (Gillibrand and Harris later terminated their candidacies.)
The substance of the Green New Deal is a work in progress. The Ocasio-Cortez/Markey resolution is more a statement of goals and principles than a policy document. Current political realities afford advocates time to work out how to achieve those goals. In the meantime, the widespread endorsements garnered by the Green New Deal should be read as support of the general approach rather than for a specific set of policies.
Even at this early stage, the Green New Deal approach appears to offer two clear advantages over other climate policy ideas including stand-alone carbon pricing:
- 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 by drawing attention to the vast economic benefits from tackling the issue in the right way.
A fabulous resource: The American Prospect Dec. 2019 issue
The progressive-leaning, policy-wonkish but politically attuned American Prospect magazine devoted its December 2019 issue to the Green New Deal. No fewer than 18 leading economists, policy veterans and public officials including WA state governor Jay Inslee and luminaries Jeffrey Sachs, Buz Paaswell, Robert Pollin, Jeffrey Faux, Derrick Jackson, Jim Boyce, Bill McKibben and the magazine’s longtime co-editors Harold Meyerson and Robert Kuttner expound on subjects from carbon dividends and restoring Americans’ trust in government programs to remediating front-line communities and “How the first New Deal remade America.” The entire issue looks like a must-read.
- 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 covered the Green New Deal extensively. A trio of his posts provide a good introduction:
- The always helpful Vox Explainer
- A reply to the critics
- An interview with Senate sponsor Edward Markey
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. In early 2019 CTC policy associate Bob Narus wrote 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.