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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a press conference to reintroduce the Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

'It Is a Revolution': Ocasio-Cortez and Markey Reintroduce Green New Deal Resolution

"We are in a civilization-altering moment in our history and it's time for America's political leaders to muster the courage and moral clarity to pass the Green New Deal," said the Sunrise Movement's executive director.

Jessica Corbett

As part of what they are calling "Green New Deal Week," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey on Tuesday led the reintroduction of their landmark resolution envisioning a 10-year mobilization that would employ millions of people with well-paying, union jobs repairing U.S. infrastructure, while reducing pollution and tackling the country's intersecting climate, economic, health, and racial justice crises.

"On the eve of Biden's climate summit, this is the bold, transformative climate action we need."
—Natalie Mebane, 350.org

"The Green New Deal isn't just a resolution, it is a revolution," said Markey (D-Mass.), who first unveiled the measure with Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in February 2019. "In the past two years, the Green New Deal has become the DNA of climate action, and the principles of jobs, justice, and climate action are now widely represented in legislation and state and local actions across the country."

"We can transform our economy and our democracy for all Americans by addressing the generational challenge of climate change," Markey said. "We have the technology to do it. We have the economic imperative. We have the moral obligation. We just need the political will."

The Green New Deal Resolution of 2021 (pdf), partly inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt's 20th century New Deal programs, declares that "it is the duty of the federal government... to achieve the greenhouse gas and toxic emissions reductions needed to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers," referencing the more ambitious target of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The resolution calls for building resiliency against climate-related disasters; repairing and upgrading U.S. infrastructure; shifting to 100% renewable energy; prioritizing energy efficiency for new and existing buildings; spurring growth in clean manufacturing; promoting sustainable agriculture practices; and overhauling the country's transportation systems.

It also emphasizes the necessity of mitigating and managing the long-term adverse health, economic, and other effects of pollution and the climate emergency; restoring natural ecosystems; cleaning up hazardous waste sites; and "promoting the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services, with the aim of making the United States the international leader on climate action."

The lead sponsors held an event on Capitol Hill to unveil the resolution, which has gained over a dozen new co-sponsors and is endorsed by over two dozen advocacy groups, including 350.org, Climate Justice Alliance, Future Coalition, Green New Deal Network, Greenpeace USA, Indivisible, Justice Democrats, National Domestic Workers Alliance, NDN Collective, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, United We Dream, and Working Families Party.

Two years after the first resolution, "we are still facing the ticking time bomb of the climate crisis, but now alongside the highest levels of joblessness since the Great Depression," noted Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash. "We are in a civilization-altering moment in our history and it's time for America's political leaders to muster the courage and moral clarity to pass the Green New Deal, launching America's biggest job creation program in a century while combating climate change."

"At a crucial moment like this," she added, "politicians have a choice to make: they can heed the call demanded by science and justice to build back better through a Green New Deal, or they can cower to the fossil fuel industry and force us down a path of destruction, towards the fires that burned our homes to rubble and the floods that took our family and friends with them."

350.org policy director Natalie Mebane pointed out the reintroduction comes just before President Joe Biden's Leaders Summit on Climate, which kicks off Thursday.

"Today, our movement presented a vision for our future: one that staves off the worst of the climate crisis and centers communities in a just transition to a regenerative, people-centered economy," Mebane said. "On the eve of Biden's climate summit, this is the bold, transformative climate action we need. We are calling on Congress and the Biden administration to implement the Green New Deal, ensure a just recovery from the racial, health, climate, and economic crises, and #BuildBackFossilFree."

Applauding the resolution "for its vision, intention, and scope," the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) said in a statement that "as Indigenous peoples and tribal nations living on the frontline of climate chaos, our communities already experience the direct impacts of climate change—and the various policies that legislate our sovereignty, our lands, and our bodies."

"We know we need bold solutions that meet the scale of our intersecting problems," IEN said. "While it is true their resolution helps shift the national conversation around addressing the climate crisis, they are also helping to shift the national conversation away from the notion that consultation equals consent and toward the codified practice of free, prior, and informed consent with tribal nations and communities. We are encouraged to see congressional leaders take charge to help Indigenous communities and tribal nations protect their homelands, rights, sacred sites, waters, air, and bodies from further destruction."

As Ocasio-Cortez detailed in a statement, "The Green New Deal has three core components: jobs, justice, and climate." She continued:

The dozens of bills that have sprung from this resolution since we introduced it two years ago all contain: 1) a commitment to creating good-paying union jobs; 2) prioritizing frontline and vulnerable communities disproportionately affected by climate change—including communities of color, Indigenous land, deindustrialized communities, and fossil fuel hubs; and 3) reducing greenhouse gas emissions from human sources by 40 to 60% within 10 years and net-zero global emissions by 2050, in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's finding that global temperatures must not increase more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialized levels in order to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.

In a tweet, the congresswoman highlighted the other measures that have been or will be put forth this week—including the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, which she introduced with Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) on Monday. As Common Dreams reported, that bill is a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."

Along with reintroducing the original resolution on Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey joined with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others to introduce the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act.

The bill would establish a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service within AmeriCorps. Markey's office framed the proposal as a modern version of a New Deal-era program also known as CCC. The updates include "ensuring that all Americans who want to participate may do so, regardless of race, age, or gender; broadening the range of eligible projects; providing 21st century health and education benefits; deepening partnerships with unions; and preserving tribal sovereignty."

Sanders, who's also a co-sponsor of the initial resolution and the Green New Deal for Public Housing, said in a statement that "the existential threat of climate change is our greatest challenge, but also our greatest opportunity to protect our natural heritage and build a just future for the generations to come."

"In the tradition of FDR's New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps—one of the most successful programs of the era that ensured jobs for millions of working people in maintaining our precious interior and conserving our wilderness—the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act will create more than a million good-paying jobs, help us protect our natural resources, and move us forward in the fight against climate change," he added. "I am proud to work with my colleagues to see the CCC of our time renewed for the challenges ahead."


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