Everything You Need to Know About the ‘Green New Deal’

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews
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On Thursday, February 7th, 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from NY introduced a bill called H.Res.109. It recognizes the “duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal” (GND). The question is, what is a “green new deal” supposed to be? What impact will it have on the surrounding communities, and how will it affect the current job market?

GND: Shaping the Future

The first thing to understand is that H.Res.109 does not explicitly introduce any new laws, regulations or programs. The Green New Deal is more of a proposal or blueprint for the kinds of changes that need to happen in the near future.

It was created by Rep. Cortez and fellow supporters to deal with the many effects of climate change and put in place policies that will help shape future operations. In other words, it’s a way to gear up the federal sector for green initiatives.

In a 10 year period, the Green New Deal challenges the U.S. as a whole to achieve the following:

Net zero GHG emissions

Infrastructure and industry that supports the many challenges of the 21st century and at the same time has a minimal impact on the surrounding environment

Clean air, water and healthy foods for all, as well as climate and community resiliency and a more sustainable environment

The reparations of vulnerable communities as a means to promote justice and equity and prevent future hardships

The introduction of millions of sustainable, high-wage jobs providing economic security and financial prosperity to “all U.S. citizens”

It’s also important to understand that these are challenges or loose goals. There is no guarantee we will meet them, and more importantly, there is no specific plan of action to make it all happen.

It’s clear that the proposal touches upon a wide variety of problems and subjects, beyond just green and Eco-friendly initiatives. It is all connected, however. As more programs are introduced to better our collective communities and surroundings, lucrative employment opportunities will become available creating a cyclical system.

The Green New Deal has strong bipartisan support among registered voters. Survey results show that 40 percent of registered voters “strongly support” the bill, while 41 percent “somewhat support” it. That’s a collective 81 percent of registered American voters that want the Green New Deal to happen in some capacity.

Green Is Great, But Where Are the Jobs Coming From?

From the outset, it doesn’t seem like a major plan to de-carbonize the American economy will have much of an impact on employment opportunities, if at all. The idea is to do away with conventional operations, so it makes more sense that jobs would go away, or does it?

The reality is the Green New Deal calls for the creation of millions of green-friendly jobs, as a sort of federal employment guarantee.

A federal jobs guarantee solidifies the full employment opportunities presented, with a base wage that essentially becomes the new minimum wage. The idea is that anyone unhappy with their current position — or anyone severely underpaid — will find a job working for the government in this sector.

As the processes and programs discussed in the bill come to fruition, it will introduce a variety of new requirements, careers and businesses. The economic policy and its impact on jobs, livelihoods and American homes is a large part of the Green New Deal’s call to action. So, it’s only fitting that we’ll see millions of jobs created as a result.

Perhaps more alarming, the Green New Deal calls for these jobs to be created in troubled, low-income communities but also for all opportunities to be unionized. This protects not only the future workers’ rights to organize but their position within the field and community.

The opportunities will be lucrative high-wage jobs, as a result, promoting fair treatment and pay for all involved. If things play out as promised, it should help boost the economy and many grassroots communities around the country.

As for where the opportunities will come from, they will be born of the green movement proposed in the bill that is meant to improve and lower carbon emissions. We’re talking recycling and development, renewable energy maintenance and sustainability, and much more.

The “Just Transition” Movement

You can’t change the current state of operations — even while introducing millions of new opportunities — without affecting the old guard. The “Just Transition” movement deals with this exactly, to ensure everyone affected can safely shift their employment without incurring hardships. It also provides growth and support to local communities, especially those oppressed by the current state of things.

This movement was first formed by labor unions and environmental justice groups to ensure low-income communities of color and the disenfranchised were not harmed or taken advantage of.

The concept is best outlined by the Climate Justice Alliance:

“After centuries of global plunder, the profit-driven industrial economy rooted in patriarchy and white supremacy is severely undermining the life support systems of the planet. Transition is inevitable. Justice is not.”

The movement is focused on building a “visionary economy” that is different “than the one we now are in.” It’s about eliminating or stopping the bad and replacing it with many new opportunities and policies. Wealth, resources and power must be redistributed to local communities in a number of ways.

Just Transition deals with the gamut of economic and financial challenges in our economy, with the Green New Deal presenting just one way to make a change. Still, it’s “one way” that introduces millions of new jobs, creates a much healthier community and environment, and promotes healthy, happy living for all.

It will be interesting to see where this goes, considering HR.Res.109 is more of an introduction of policies and potential strategies. If and when this bill is passed, there’s a lot more that needs to be done on the Federal level to get this entire system active.

All in all, healthier, clean living and strong financial support for American citizens is definitely worth it.

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