Democrats’ ‘Green New Deal’ aims to slash US carbon emissions to zero in a decade
Image credit: reuters
The Democratic Party in the US has laid out its 'Green New Deal' which aims to eliminate all of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in a single decade.
The document, which has strong support from Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey, is being used to make climate change a key issue in the 2020 presidential race.
While the plan is a non-binding congressional resolution, it is one of the most aggressive climate goals ever proposed by Democratic lawmakers.
It also comes in stark contrast to the Trump administration which has been consistently opposed to greater environmental protections and has backed domestic fossil fuel production over investment into renewables.
“Today is the day that we choose to assert ourselves as a global leader in transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy and charting that path,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters.
The resolution so far has 64 House co-sponsors and nine Senate sponsors - four of whom are Democratic presidential hopefuls for 2020. Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gilibrand, Corey Booker and Elizabeth Warren co-sponsored the resolution.
Ocasio-Cortez said she will immediately begin to work on legislation that would “fully flesh out the projects involved in the Green New Deal.”
Republicans have been quick to criticise the initiative, waving off any kind of proposal as heavy-handed.
“It’s a socialist manifesto that lays out a laundry list of government giveaways, including guaranteed food, housing, college and economic security even for those who refuse to work,” Republican Senator John Barrasso, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, said on Twitter.
The non-binding resolution outlines several goals for the US, including meeting 100 per cent of power demand from zero-emission energy sources such as wind and solar within 10 years.
The plan also calls for new projects to modernise US transportation infrastructure, cut carbon emissions from the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, make buildings and homes more energy efficient and increase land preservation.
The plan is intended to address the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global temperatures must be kept less than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels to avoid the most severe impacts of a changing climate.
In December 2018 a study suggested that even if all governments achieved their global warming commitments under the Paris Agreement the world will still warm by 3°C.
The Green New Deal also aims to create an economic safety net for communities that will be affected by the impacts of climate change and the shift away from fossil fuel use, including through guarantees of healthcare, jobs and training. It was not clear how the programs would be funded.
“We need to be sure that workers currently employed in fossil fuel industries have higher-wages and better jobs available to them to be able to make this transition and a federal jobs guarantee ensures that no worker is left behind,” according to a summary of the plan.