The Green New Deal proposed by Osacio-Cortez is hugely ambitious and light on details. I wanted to really like it, however it’s a bit scattered. At heart, it’s about social justice more than anything else. Yes, absolutely, the poor and underclasses are adversely affected way more than others by climate change, high energy costs, and pollution. Getting 100% of our energy from renewables, as proposed, will help the poor enormously, and the rest of us too.
Yet, making social justice a major focus, along with peripheral goals (medical care, more unions) that have little to do with renewables and remediating climate change make the whole proposal fuzzy. I give it an A for enthusiasm and a C- for implementation and hope Version 2.0 is more focused. It has definitely started a conversation about green energy, and that’s absolutely a good thing.
I’m just not seeing much in the Green New Deal (PDF) on the specifics of how to get to 100% renewables. The most concrete plan in the proposal is for the federal government to fund renewable energy research, which is already happening despite the Orange Malignancy in the White House. (Also, a meaningful Green New Deal will not happen until Trump is no longer in power, so ousting him needs to be goal #1.)
Transitioning to clean energy is complicated. You can’t just build renewable energy plants and expect it all to work smoothly. Those power plants will be part of a grid that needs to stay in balance between supply and demand. By its very nature, renewable energy is not generated 24/7. Therefore, baseline power will always be needed. That probably means coal, natural gas, and nuclear will be with us for a while, even as solar / battery peaker plants are cheaper than natural gas now. And before pro-nuke people say woo-hoo, let’s build more nuclear power, we in southern Nevada beg to differ, because your toxic waste is being stored here. Nuclear energy is zero emissions except for the radioactive material, so it’s not really zero emissions at all.
The technical challenges is transitioning to a green economy are enormous and the cost will be huge. I applaud this Green New Deal, however do think it’s bit vague and not particularly well thought-out.
Green New Deal platform
building resiliency against climate change-related disasters.
repairing and upgrading the infrastructure in the United States.
meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, re8 newable, and zero-emission energy sources.
building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘‘smart’’ power grids.
upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency.
spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry.
remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural and transportation sectors.
removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and reducing pollution by restoring natural ecosystems
restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems
cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites.
providing and leveraging, in a way that ensures that the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment, adequate capital (including through community grants, public banks, and other public financing.)
ensuring that the Federal Government takes into account the complete environmental and social costs and impacts of emissions.
providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities.
making public investments in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy .
directing investments to spur economic development, deepen and diversify industry and business in local and regional economies.
ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities.
guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave.
strengthening and enforcing labor, workplace health and safety, antidiscrimination, and wage and hour standards across all employers, industries, and sectors.
obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples and their traditional territories.
ensuring a commercial environment where every businessperson is free from unfair competition and domination by domestic or international monopolies.