In a path-breaking effort to map out a plan that would transition the American energy system to 100 percent renewable energy while creating millions of jobs in the process, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Thursday unveiled a Green New Deal resolution with the goal of boldly confronting "the existential threat posed by climate change."
"It's time for our leaders to join the center of energy in the Democratic Party and prioritize our planet and its people over the profits of fossil fuel billionaires."
—Alexandra Rojas, Justice Democrats
With the early support of at least 60 House Democrats and major 2020 Democratic presidential contenders—including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.)—the resolutions calls for a "national mobilization" to build "resiliency against climate change-related disasters" and "achieve 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources" within the next ten years.
"This resolution outlines a plan to launch a WWII scale transformation of our economy, including a just transition for workers and frontline communities, and moving to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2030," declared the youth-led Sunrise Movement, which launched a petition calling on members of Congress to back the measure.
"This is a huge step," 350.org wrote on Twitter. "For too long, legislation has failed to live up to the scale of the climate crisis. Not anymore. Now, it's time to come together and fight to make the strongest possible Green New Deal a reality. The climate can't afford anything less."
Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, celebrated the Green New Deal plan as "an earthquake in the Democratic Party" that represents "the most serious solution to rewrite America's social contract and stave off climate disaster."
"Any Democrat running for president who wants to be taken seriously on climate and economic policy needs to back Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal resolution," Rojas said in a statement. "The Green New Deal offers a positive solution to match the scale of our nation's biggest crises—climate change, structural racism, and skyrocketing inequality. It's time for our leaders to join the center of energy in the Democratic Party and prioritize our planet and its people over the profits of fossil fuel billionaires."
The Green New Deal offers a positive, bold solution to match the scale of our nation’s biggest crises - climate change, structural racism, and skyrocketing inequality.
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Ocasio-Cortez and Markey's Green New Deal resolutions come after months of relentless grassroots organizing and mass protests spearheaded by the Sunrise Movement and other national green groups, which are continuing to pressure members of Congress to back climate solutions in line with the dire predictions of the scientific community.
As Vox's David Roberts notes, "the progressive movement has, in rather short order, thrust into mainstream U.S. politics a program to address climate change that is wildly more ambitious than anything the Democratic Party was talking about even two years ago."
"It's up to the grassroots to keep pushing at every step of this fight for an expansive vision that ends our fossil fuel addiction and solves the climate crisis."
—Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth
"One-hundred percent clean energy, investment in new jobs, and a just transition have gone from activist dreams to the core of the Democratic agenda in the blink of a political eye. There's a long way to go, but the [Green New Deal] train has come farther, faster than anyone could have predicted."
While expressing concern that Ocasio-Cortez and Markey's resolutions don't contain the words "fossil fuels," David Turnbull—strategic communications director with Oil Change USA—applauded their effort to outline "bold and important proposals that start to reflect the scope and scale of actions that the climate crisis requires."
"Today's resolutions mark the start of a new conversation on climate action in the United States that can finally begin," Turnbull added, "and we look forward to engaging fully to ensure a managed decline of fossil fuel production is a key part of that discussion."
Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica echoed Turnbull's concern about the lack of explicit language calling for the end of fossil fuels and said, "It's up to the grassroots to keep pushing at every step of this fight for an expansive vision that ends our fossil fuel addiction and solves the climate crisis."
"The Green New Deal is a strong vision for the future, stuck in the politics of today. We enthusiastically endorse the many pieces of the resolution that call for systemic change. But by failing to expressly call for an end of the fossil fuel era, the resolution misses an opportunity to define the scope of the challenge," Pica concluded. "While incomplete, the resolution is a good first step toward a Green New Deal. "