The Green New Deal is an opportunity for America to get right with the world

There’s an inescapable truth when it comes to climate change:
Through its historical emissions and political role throughout
history, the United States is responsible for this problem more
than any other country on Earth.

The unveiling of
a sweeping Green New Deal resolution
by Representative
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, along with
several leading presidential candidates and dozens of other
co-sponsors
, is a legitimate effort to right those wrongs and
repair our standing in the world on
the biggest problem in human history
.

The historical context for this moment should not be forgotten:
After World War II, the U.S.
normalized fossil fuel use on a massive scale
, launching an
explosive rise in carbon emissions that has continued largely
unabated even after climate change was identified as a potentially
existential problem decades ago. With 4 percent of the world’s
population, the United States has produced 25 percent of all
human-related greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution,

twice that of China
.

Beyond our direct emissions, U.S. politicians have a history of
sabotaging global efforts to fight climate change, most notably
American reluctance to keep its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol
and the Paris Accord. Even American climate champions have fallen
short: Obama presided over the failure of cap-and-trade
legislation, the botched global deal in Copenhagen, and the rise of
the natural gas industry. And all along, American fossil fuel
companies have funded a campaign of disinformation designed to
promote the status quo — regardless of who held the presidency.
Current U.S. policy is “critically
insufficient
” to address climate change.

In 2019, after decades of delay, the world finds itself at the
brink of
locking in irreversible changes
to the biosphere, oceans, land,
ice, and atmosphere of the planet. There is no more time left to
wait.

“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are
nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change
presents to us, to our country, and to the world,” Ocasio-Cortez
said in
an interview with NPR
this morning. “If we want the United
States to continue to be a global leader, then that means we need
to lead on the solution of this issue.”

Today’s Green New Deal resolution acknowledges America’s
unique climate legacy and its outsized responsibility in its second
paragraph, concluding “the United States must take a leading role
in reducing emissions through economic transformation.”

That call for historic, transformative change — at an
emergency pace — could see the U.S. kickstart a new era of
responsible climate policy, “a new national, social, industrial,
and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War
II,” according to the resolution.

Simply put, the Green New Deal is a chance for the U.S. to make
amends.

The resolution, which is non-binding, is designed to be a
talking point in the upcoming presidential campaign and as a means
gather support for a broad legislative push in the near term. Its
10-year plan would provide “100 percent of the power demand in
the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission
energy sources” and a “just transition for all communities and
workers.” This is likely at the limits of technical feasibility,
even with the hedge of “net-zero” emissions, which would allow
for a slower complete phase-out of fossil fuels.

Most of the resolution isn’t so much a concrete plan to cut
emissions so much as a manifesto for a restructuring of American
society to thrive in the climate change era — and to serve as a
model to the rest of the world. The Green New Deal would address
“systemic injustices” head-on in “frontline and vulnerable
communities” through a living wage job guarantee, public
education, universal health care, universal housing, and
“repairing historic oppression,” all the while promoting a
resurgence in community-led democratic principles.

Paying for it, judging from
separate statements by its supporters
, would likely require
massive tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and trillions of
dollars of deficit spending
. Polling for earlier versions of
the plan showed overwhelming support from the public,
even among Republicans
.

In the context of our ongoing planetary emergency and
America’s long struggle to productively confront climate change,
it’s impossible not to see this as an investment in the future of
our country, an investment in the stability of the planet and the
survival of human civilization.

“I think that this is a very special moment,” Ocasio-Cortez
told NPR. “We have a responsibility to show what another America
looks like.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
The Green New Deal is an opportunity for America to get right with
the world
on Feb 7, 2019.

Source: FS – All – Science – News
The Green New Deal is an opportunity for America to get right with the world