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On February 7, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Sen. Ed Markey (MA) released their resolution, “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” While a “Green New Deal” has meant many different things to different people, this is the first time the idea has been formally introduced in Congress and fleshed out.

The resolution includes a wide range of climate-related goals – though it doesn’t describe how these goals will be achieved — including 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2030, massive public investment in infrastructure, building upgrades and renovation, clean manufacturing, restoring natural ecosystems, overhauling the transportation system, transforming our agricultural system, and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We are inspired and encouraged by the groundswell of activism, particularly youth-led engagement, that has recently coalesced around the need for bold action.

It emphasizes that frontline and vulnerable communities must not be harmed by the transition to a green economy, and specifically seeks to promote justice and equity for “indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhouse, people with disabilities, and youth.” Other economic goals are named, including rights to labor organizing, quality healthcare, good-paying jobs, housing, and access to essential resources like healthy food and clean water, among others.

From Climate Science to Policy Solutions

FCNL welcomes such an ambitious plan, as the crisis of climate change requires ambition and urgent action. We are inspired and encouraged by the groundswell of activism, particularly youth-led engagement, that has recently coalesced around the need for bold action. An engaged and activated movement is necessary to ensure our government responds to the threat of climate change in a timely and effective manner. We appreciate the importance of legislators crafting policy at the speed and scale needed to address the problem.

We also remain committed to fostering bipartisan political will to address climate change this Congress.

The Congressional discourse on climate change, long mired in partisan conflict over the validity of climate science, is visibly shifting. An increasing number of Republican members of Congress acknowledge the scientific consensus that climate change is human-caused and already harming communities across the country.

In what one member described as a “revolutionary step,” every witness called by both Republicans and Democrats at a February 6 hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change said they accepted that climate change is real and caused by greenhouse gas emissions. This is real and important momentum, and we are delighted that the debate is shifting away from climate science and towards policy solutions.

Next Steps

Looking ahead, we will continue to foster bipartisan climate action in Congress. Bipartisanship is critical, both to advance bills in a divided government and to ensure that legislation stands the test of time. We look forward to analyzing future legislation that fleshes out how we can achieve the goals of the Green New Deal, and recognize that the Green New Deal will not become law this Congress.

It is essential that Congress is both building the ambitious climate policy needed for our future and working diligently to lay the foundation for more immediate climate action in this Congress. We applaud the new energy in Congress and among the grassroots to work on this issue and hope the 116th Congress will bring about a new era of cooperation and action on climate change. It’s time to get to work.

Emily Wirzba

Emily Wirzba

Former Legislative Manager, Sustainable Energy and Environment
Emily Wirzba led FCNL’s lobbying work to achieve bipartisan recognition of climate change and action in Congress. She served as co-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community’s Energy and Ecology Working Group.

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