Growing calls for ‘Green New Deal’ from US activists – and politicians are starting to listen

Green New Deal demonstrators.
Peter Bolton

With the White House occupied by Donald Trump ­– who believes that climate change is a ‘Chinese hoax’ – it can feel like there is little cause for optimism on environmental issues in the US. But campaigners have nonetheless been working tirelessly to make a ‘Green New Deal’ a reality.

Rally for a select committee in congress

On 10 December, over 1,000 climate activists descended on the office of likely incoming House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi. They called on her to establish a Green New Deal select committee in Congress. Around 150 were arrested after occupying the California Democrat’s office.

Congressmember-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez initiated the idea as part of her campaign. Another 35 congress members have also expressed support, including newly-elected Palestinian-American Representative Rashida Tlaib.

The following day, around 300 activists demonstrated at Pelosi’s San Francisco offices in support of the move. One of the activists said:

We need to be treating climate change like a crisis, because it is a crisis. And as young people, we have a lot at stake in this.

Support from the grassroots

The proposal has also received support from grassroots organizations. The Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) National Ecosocialist Working Group formally endorsed the campaign, which has been led by the Sunrise Movement. DSA said in a statement:

This is a huge breakthrough in climate politics – calling for full decarbonization of the US economy in 10 years through a federal job guarantee for all – and DSA is encouraging chapters to support the campaign however they see fit.

Unions and NGOs also expressed support on Twitter. The Service Employees International Union tweeted:

The environmentalist Sierra Club, meanwhile, said:

Public Citizen also paid tribute to Ocasio-Cortez:

As did the aforementioned Sunrise Movement:

Pressing need for change

The concept of a ‘Green New Deal’ was first popularized by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. It calls for an economic stimulus and jobs program similar to the ‘New Deal’ instituted by former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt but based on rebuilding infrastructure in an environmentally friendly way. Some of its central pillars include a carbon tax, incentives for wind and solar energy, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

Republicans have long argued that such a program would be “impossible and unaffordable”. But with the devastating effects of climate chaos becoming apparent in report after report, it seems increasingly clear that the US and other advanced economies can’t afford not to implement lasting change.

With these activists and grassroots organizations behind them, the newly elected progressives like Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib now have the wind in their sails to make this a reality.

Featured image via YouTube

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