COLUMN: The green new deal could be America's next big step


New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-14th District, speaks as Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and other Congressional Democrats listen during a news conference Feb. 7 in Washington, D.C. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-14th District, along with other members of the House and Senate authored a nonbinding resolution last week laying out the blueprint of the revolutionary Green New Deal. 

Although the exact details still need to be worked out, the Green New Deal is a sweeping program intended to cut carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy while creating jobs and boosting the economy.

Currently, the incremental changes in environmental regulations will not suffice to meet the goal set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030. The Green New Deal is the radical change we need.  

So far, it’s the only serious plan that’s been introduced to solve the global threat of climate change. However, there is some skepticism if the Green New Deal could actually be implemented. It's important to examine some of the highlights of the program.

Countries need to cut their carbon emissions in half by 2030 to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius in 2050. The year 2050 is the "point of no return."

The Green New Deal plans to de-carbonize the economy and run on 100 percent renewable electricity in 10 years. It targets the acceleration of the manufacturing of electric vehicles, the construction of energy efficient buildings and de-carbonizing heavy industry

Additionally, the program wants to transition the current 92,000 coal jobs to "green jobs." In 2017 there were 800,000 people employed in low-carbon emission generation technologies. Furthermore, "Wind Turbine Technician" is one of the fastest growing jobs in America

This defies a major aspect of conservative discourse that insists that moving away from coal and oil jobs will increase unemployment and hurt the working man. 

These programs will be financed with a carbon tax and other taxes on the ultra-rich. We will have to face enormous financial costs of climate change eventually, and the preparation for mitigating the effects of climate change will create jobs and boost the economy. 

Possibly the most controversial aspect of the Green New Deal, the federal job guarantee, aspires to obligate the federal government to provide a job for anyone who asks for one and pay them a livable wage of $15.

A wage that ensures no person works full time and lives in poverty would need to be at least $26 per hour, corresponding to the official poverty line for families with nine or more members. 

The question remains, how will the government find suitable jobs for everyone? Some experts hope that the job guarantee will act as a buffer that absorbs workers in economic downturns and releases them when the economy improves. The implementation of the job guarantee still needs much more consideration.

Poverty could be reduced as a result of this guarantee. Anyone without a college or even a high school degree will have the means to move themselves up the socioeconomic ladder. 

It could solve labor gaps by providing specialized training to enter into a job in a specific industry. This would be especially helpful in Indiana as we are facing a shortage of skilled trade workers, which is hitting hard on companies like Williams Comfort Air.

Although only 14 percent of Americans have heard about the Green New Deal, according to a survey by ClimateProgress

Many 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have incorporated the Green New Deal or aspects of it into their platform, and it is likely the Green New Deal will be in many sound bites as the campaigns intensify. However, in the current political climate, the hopes of the Green New Deal actually passing seems grim. 

Officially, Democrats are the only party that supports fighting climate change. However, the Climate Leadership Council found that 55 percent of Republicans would support a carbon tax. Hopefully, as the threat of climate change becomes more apparent, policies mitigating its effects will become more bipartisan. 

This 10-year mobilization to fight climate change that the Green New Deal calls for is not that far-fetched in American memory. From the Revolutionary War to putting a man on the moon, the resilience and determination of the American people are often tested and not to be underestimated. 

The Green New Deal is a crucial first step in preserving the future of our country and our world.  

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