Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday became the latest politician to announce an ambitious plan to tackle a looming climate crisis under the “Green New Deal” label.
The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate unveiled the $16-trillion proposal before visiting California, where global warming has the potential to fuel wildfires, heat spells, drought, floods and rising ocean temperatures.
The announcement comes after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced her signature congressional resolution of the same name in February, Mayor Eric Garcetti followed suit with his own sweeping plan for Los Angeles in April, and, as the issue gained traction, other Democratic presidential candidates released proposals.
Although the idea of a Green New Deal and the name itself had been circulating for some time, Ocasio-Cortez’s bold framework garnered national attention with its call for a sweeping restructure of the U.S. economy to direct investment into clean, renewable energy and innovation in the fight against climate change. The movement, which pushes for mobilization similar to what was seen under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, has since ushered in a wave of support from Democratic figures. Some environmental activists have specifically called for climate change policies to be made under the Green New Deal label.
The Sierra Club, a leading environmental group, describes a Green New Deal as a “big, bold transformation of the economy to tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change.” The Sunrise Movement, an advocacy group that seeks to build support for Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution, believes the plan would usher in changes to the economy and society “needed to stop the climate crisis.”
Several candidates have also rolled out their own ambitious climate change proposals, although they haven’t taken on the “Green New Deal” slogan. Numerous Democratic presidential candidates have expressed support of Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution. Some have also proposed implementing the resolution or parts of it in their own climate change plans, including Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg.
Here are highlights from three plans that embrace the name.
Sanders’ plan approaches climate change as the biggest challenge — and opportunity — facing the country
Sanders would declare a national emergency to address global warming under his 10-year plan, and emphasize environmental justice, which includes the equal treatment and involvement of people regardless of race, color, national origin or income. The proposal aims to achieve 100% sustainable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030 and to decarbonize the economy by 2050. Sanders predicted Thursday that his plan would end unemployment by creating 20 million jobs.
Other highlights include:
- Investments such as $2.2 trillion on need-based grants for families and businesses to weatherize homes and businesses, $2.1 trillion to help people replace gasoline-fueled vehicles with electric ones, $526 billion to rebuild the U.S. electricity grid and $407 billion to buy electric buses for public use.
- A $40-billion fund to address climate impacts in “frontline communities,” including communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly.
- A reduction in U.S. emissions by at least 71% by 2030.
- A proposal to raise funding with federal subsidies cuts from the fossil-fuel industry, force the industry to pay for its pollution through lawsuits and unspecified taxes, and scale back military spending that maintains oil dependence. The plan also notes that it would generate income tax revenue from new “green” jobs and require wealthy Americans and large corporations to “pay their fair share.”
“We can sure as hell transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100% renewables today and create millions of jobs in the process,” Sanders said.
Here’s more on the plan from politics writer Michael Finnegan: Bernie Sanders calls for $16 trillion in spending against climate change
Garcetti’s plan targets car culture, buildings and air quality in America’s second-largest city
The mayor’s sustainability plan calls climate change an “existential threat” that would require a reimagining of life in Los Angeles. Angelenos would need to drive far less: from an average of 15 miles a day now to 13 miles by 2025, and nine miles by 2035. When they do get behind the wheel, the plan calls for 80% of cars to run on electricity or zero-emission fuel by 2035 and that residents drive 2,000 fewer miles each year. The city’s plan estimates the targets would create 400,000 “green jobs” by 2050.
The plan calls for:
- Establishing 28,000 publicly available electric-vehicle chargers by 2028 — up from 2,100 today. The city would streamline permitting for chargers, expand rebate programs and require more chargers in building codes.
- Ensuring all autonomous vehicles (AVs) or self-driving cars used for ride-sharing services would be electric by 2021.
- All new buildings should be “net-zero carbon” by 2030, with all buildings using zero-emission technologies by 2050.
- Transitioning the city to 100% renewable energy by 2045.
- Increasing the use of local water resources, reducing air pollution from industrial facilities and the port, and slashing emissions from waste and the food system.
“Los Angeles needs to lead, but the whole world needs to act. This plan gives us a fighting chance,” Garcetti told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s sort of a ‘greenprint’ for every other city in the country and the world, hopefully.”
Here’s more on the plan from energy reporter Sammy Roth: L.A. Mayor Garcetti’s ‘Green New Deal’ would phase out gas-fueled cars
Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution says the federal government has a ‘duty’ to create a Green New Deal
House Resolution 109 was introduced with more than 60 co-sponsors and is nonbinding, meaning that if it passes nothing in the bill would instantly create any programs or laws. Instead, it offers a framework for how the U.S. should tackle climate change. For example, it asks the U.S. to take responsibility for its own greenhouse gas emissions and acknowledge that climate change is tied to systemic injustices that disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. “A new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era is a historic opportunity,” it says.
The proposal includes a transition to 100% renewable energy, guarantees for healthcare and living-wage jobs and the upgrading of every U.S. building for energy efficiency.
The plan includes calls for the U.S. to:
- Work in collaboration with vulnerable communities, labor groups, organizations and businesses.
- Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- Carry out a 10-year national mobilization initiative that would invest in U.S. infrastructure and move the economy to more reliance on renewable energy sources.
- Secure access to clean air, food, water and energy resources for future generations.
- Provide resources such as training and high-quality education to U.S. residents, with an emphasis on investing in historically marginalized communities.
“Small, incremental policy solutions are not enough,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference in Washington earlier this year. “This is a major watershed moment.”
Here’s more on the plan from staff writer Evan Halper: How the Green New Deal is shaping the race for president
Staff writers Michael Finnegan, Sammy Roth and Evan Halper contributed to this report.