Short video explainers on the Green New Deal

Joe Romm: Since 2016, the science has only become more urgent. As the latest U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned last fall, we must make sharp reductions in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to have any plausible chance of averting catastrophic climate change.

And the calls for strong climate action have only been growing since the midterm elections last November. So much so that many of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls are voicing their support for the Green New Deal.

So, the Green New Deal is a logical outgrowth of the 2016 Democratic Platform — with ever-growing momentum. The fact that it calls for a faster transition to clean energy is also logical given that climate science has gotten even more urgent since 2016 — and that we now have a president who has been pushing emissions in the wrong direction. Bold action on infrastructure would likely include addressing the electrical grid, something that would be crucial for the Green New Deal resolution to carry any weight. The process would be staggering, but it would also do what the resolution mandates: employ hundreds of thousands of workers in an economic burst aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.

“If done well, it can be a huge driver of job creation and boosting our economy, driving investment,” Johnston said.

Labor groups have also expressed interest in the idea of an infrastructure plan to help the environment while creating new jobs. “We can, and must, have both,” said Mike Williams of the BlueGreen Alliance (BGA), speaking before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 6.

BGA is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations and did not return a request for comment on the Green New Deal to ThinkProgress on Thursday. But a two-page guide from the organization on infrastructure and protecting the environment shows support for job creation and emissions reduction through sweeping infrastructure legislation.

Scientists also expressed initial support for the resolution. In a statement Thursday morning, Ken Kimmell, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he was “excited and heartened” by the effort and expressed no worries about its feasibility.

“The resolution’s focus on a rapid, massive near-term investment in equitable climate solutions is exactly what’s needed to accelerate the clean energy momentum already underway nationwide,” Kimmell said.

House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are both co-sponsors of the resolution and indicated they will work hard to move legislation forward. DeFazio said a transportation bill centering electrification is currently in the works. Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), a skeptic of Green New Deal efforts, also said Thursday that he agreed with the resolution’s general goals and would consider it.

Johnston, of Climate Interactive, underscored that there is no time to lose and praised the “win-win positive impacts” presented by the resolution.


The Green New Deal, as proposed by Ocasio-Cortez in November prior to being sworn into Congress, would guide the transition of the U.S. economy to become carbon neutral within a decade. It also would aim to significantly reduce greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and promote economic and environmental justice and equality.

During the House Natural Resources Committee, headed by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), discussion focused on the current impacts of climate change and potential ways to fight it. It was the committee’s first hearing of the new Congress.

Recent scientific studies, however, have emphasized that bold climate action must be taken by national governments around the world to avoid substantial damages to the environment and human health over the coming decades.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change also held a hearing on Wednesday to gather more information on the environmental and economic effects of climate change.

Whether replacing lead pipes, weatherizing homes, expanding railways, or manufacturing wind turbines, the Green New Deal, as initially proposed by Ocasio-Cortez, would provide union jobs with family-sustaining wages and benefits, safe working conditions, and training and advancement opportunities.

Green New Deal vs injustice Screencap from Leap video

You’ve been hearing a lot about the Green New Deal, but you’re wondering what it’s all about? You can read the full resolution here. Or, if you want a quick and chatty explainer, check out the video on the bottom of this article put together by the folks at The Leap, a climate action group, or the 20 minute MSNBC interview with Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the very bottom of this article.

The Leap Manifesto predates the Green New Deal, but the group has eagerly taken up the mantle. Here’s the central core of the Manifesto:

“We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities.

“We know that the time for this great transition is short. Climate scientists have told us that this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer get us where we need to go.”

So you can see why the Green New Deal has appeal — they’re both running with many of the same proposals. Here’s how The Leap prefaces its Green New Deal video:

“The Green New Deal is an ambitious plan for how we can eliminate poverty and create millions of jobs while tackling the biggest threat of our time: climate change.  It involves massive public investment in clean energy, transit and climate adaptation work. But the vision is bigger than that: it’s about transforming our entire economy to be safer and more fair, and give everyone a better life. First proposed in the U.S., the Green New Deal is now spreading around the world.”

Check out the video — and keep watching this space for news on the Green New Deal, spearheaded by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey.