The Green New Deal is a proposed radical United States government spending plan, designed by the Democratic party, to combat climate change.
The name is taken from the 1930s New Deal policy which was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1936. It responded to needs for relief, reform and recovery from the Great Depression.
The New Deal provided support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly. The programme also included new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen sharply.
In 2008, the year of the global stock market crash, presidential candidate Barack Obama added a Green New Deal to his platform. This new deal was to end fossil fuel subsidies, tax carbon dioxide emissions and create lasting incentives for wind and solar energy.
The first part of the New Green Deal was the Cap-and-Trade bill, which would pump $150 billion in clean energy investments and create 1.7 million good-paying jobs. However, by 2010 austerity politics had hit hard and the Cap-and-Trade bill, known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act fell apart from lack of funding.
At the same time in Britain, a team of economists calling themselves the Green New Deal Group proposed a government-run green investment bank to bolster renewable energy. However, only months later the Conservative party came into office and the ethical bank never came into being.
Roots of recovery
Back in America, 2019 sees the Democrats taking back the House of Representatives and the once withered Green New Deal is a policy that is showing strong roots of recovery. Leading the way are the Justice Democrats and its highest profile member, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who states:
“It will require the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs. We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy but this time green energy.”
“There’s so many jobs out there that the private sector won’t create that would literally help protect our planet and save us from impending climate doom.”
Other Democrats see the Green New Deal as a vote winner but are less enthusiastic about committing to 100% renewable energy and instead focus on the deal rebuilding infrastructure and creating jobs. Democratic progressive Abdul El-Sayed from Michigan argues:
“We understand the responsibility to stand up against climate change, create jobs and rebuild that infrastructure ― it’s a clear, crystalline opportunity.”
El-Sayed is proposing a green infrastructure bank to start building renewable energy projects across the state, similar to the government-funded ethical bank in Britain that never was. He explains:
“We’re thinking about it at the state level, which both gives us a level of concreteness that is helpful and also allows us to be very specific about solving these challenges encapsulated under the umbrella of Green New Deal.”
How far the Green New Deal can go is questionable, but the willingness is there and the shifting political power means it stands a chance that it never had before. And once again Britain is playing catch-up.