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The Green New Deal put forth by Sen. Bernie Sanders, explains, Schlosberg, "explicitly bans fracking, prevents all new pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, bans all fossil fuel exports, and directly challenges this poisoning industry. And it enables a fair and just transition for workers and frontline communities by taxing the accumulated wealth and income of industries that profit off of polluting our planet. No other climate plan does all of these things." (Image: BernieSanders.com)

Confronting the Climate Crisis—Why We Need Bernie Sanders' Green New Deal

We cannot confront the climate emergency—we cannot avoid the worst of rapidly unfolding climate chaos—if we do not stop our headlong rush to expand fossil fuel extraction and burning.

Mark Schlosberg

The climate emergency is the single biggest challenge to our food, water and people on this planet.

Fires are burning in the Arctic and Amazon. In India a city larger than Los Angeles has run out of water. And increasingly intense storms have caused escalating damage across the globe, with Dorian being the most recent example. Things are only getting worse. We desperately need a policy response that is big enough and bold enough to meet the challenge of our generation. Senator Bernie Sanders' Green New Deal is just that response. Its recognition of the reality of the climate crisis, and its scope and ambition dwarf all other proposals. Regardless of the presidential race, it is time for us to all rally around this plan and make it real.

Bernie Sanders' Green New Deal provides a roadmap of what we as a society need to do to confront the climate emergency.

Sanders' Green New Deal is truly comprehensive in its approach. It invests $16 trillion over 15 years to transition our energy system—a scale far exceeding even the most ambitious plans of other leading candidates. It mandates a transition to 100% renewable energy in electricity and most transportation by 2030, invests in energy efficiency, takes on big agribusiness and factory farms, includes the WATER Act to rebuild our water infrastructure, and contains strong provisions for a fair and just transition for workers in the fossil fuel industry.

Beyond its breadth, Sanders' Green New Deal is also the climate plan that most directly confronts the fossil fuel industry. While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear we only have 12 years to avoid the worst of climate chaos (and likely we have far less time), rather than moving off fossil fuels, we are currently increasing production. Trump is escalating fracking and drilling on public land. Meanwhile, there are more than 700 fracked gas infrastructure projects recently completed or in the works, including export facilities, power plants, pipelines and petrochemical facilities.

These projects will all cost hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars, and will lock us into dirty fossil fuels for decades to come. Taking into account leakage of the powerful greenhouse gas methane, fracked gas is just as bad or even worse than coal for the climate. It is as if our house is burning down, and while waiting for the fire department to arrive, we are throwing gasoline on the fire. This is insanity.

While many candidates have signed on to a Green New Deal resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, that resolution does not contain provisions that directly address fossil fuels. Sanders' Green New Deal explicitly bans fracking, prevents all new pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, bans all fossil fuel exports, and directly challenges this poisoning industry. And it enables a fair and just transition for workers and frontline communities by taxing the accumulated wealth and income of industries that profit off of polluting our planet. No other climate plan does all of these things. It is time for all the candidates to step up and support this transformative vision.

At the CNN climate town hall, it was heartening to see Senator Kamala Harris voice her support for a ban on fracking for the first time. Senator Elizabeth Warren has told the media of her support for a fracking ban as well. However, while the climate plans they released contain references to stopping infrastructure and exports, they are less explicit than Sanders has been and their written plans do not mention a full fracking ban. Both Warren and Harris should confirm their support for a national ban on all fracking by including it in their climate plans and regularly advocating for it on the campaign trail and in the Senate.

We cannot confront the climate emergency—we cannot avoid the worst of rapidly unfolding climate chaos—if we do not stop our headlong rush to expand fossil fuel extraction and burning. This expansion must be immediately halted and rolled back at the same time that we are building out a truly clean, renewable energy future.

Sanders' Green New Deal provides a roadmap of what we as a society need to do to confront the climate emergency. Regardless of which candidate one supports, we need to rally around this plan and build the movement and create the political pressure required to make it a reality.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Mark Schlosberg

Mark Schlosberg is the Organizing Co-Director for Food & Water Action. Follow him on Twitter: @mschlos

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