Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Green New Deal, Explained - By David Roberts

An insurgent movement is pushing Democrats to back an ambitious climate change solution.

Sunrise Movement (Credit: Sunrise Movement) Click to Enlarge.
If the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is to be believed, humanity has just over a decade to get carbon emissions under control before catastrophic climate change impacts become unavoidable.

The Republican Party generally ignores or denies that problem.  But the Democratic Party claims to accept and understand it.

It is odd, then, that Democrats do not have a plan to address climate change.
Plenty of Democratic politicians support policies that would reduce climate pollution — renewable energy tax credits, fuel economy standards, and the like — but those policies do not add up to a comprehensive solution, certainly nothing like what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests is necessary.

Young activists, who will be forced to live with the ravages of climate change, find this upsetting.  So they have proposed a plan of their own.  It’s called the Green New Deal (GND) — a term purposefully reminiscent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s original New Deal in the 1930s — and it has become the talk of the town.
“Even if we get the politics right, I still think that we’re going to need sustained mass protest, extended labor shutdowns, and general strikes to begin as soon as possible after Election Day 2020,” says Weber.  “That’s going to take convincing the American people that this is an absolute moral and economic necessity, and the only thing standing in the way of it happening is the political class.”

It is a long shot.  But as the IPCC has made clear, long shots are the only shots left.  It is not the elderly members of Congress who will live with the havoc forecast by climate scientists, it is the young activists who are amassing on their doorsteps and in their offices.  Those young activists are looking ahead further than the next election cycle.  Their families will suffer the consequences of these choices.

But they believe that history is on their side.  “The most powerful force known to humans is ideology,” says McElwee.  Republicans have pushed through “radically unpopular policies because of their commitment to ideology.”  But today, he says, “young people have the ideas that people want to be associated with.  We shape ideology and that’s incredibly fucking powerful.”

Climate politics is, now as ever, a choice between changes that seem impossible and a future that seems unthinkable.  For years, US politics has denied and avoided that choice.  In their own way, Democrats — the “adults” who want to reserve the power to make these decisions — have avoided it just like Republicans.

Facing it squarely means radicalism.  Now, a real response to climate change, a response on the scale of what the crisis demands, is on the table.  It is an option.  It has a name.

Whether America can work its way past polarization, paralysis, and structural barriers to change to actually grasp that option, to take a leap into a new future, very much remains to be seen.  But there can be no more ignoring the choice.

Read much more at The Green New Deal, Explained - By David Roberts

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