On Thursday, New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a new climate change resolution aimed at bringing a Green New Deal legislation to life.
At 29 years old, Alexandria is repping for a millennial generation that’s often unfairly categorized as entitled at best and ill-informed at worst.
But somewhere in between this is a generation demanding better from our leaders, and in many cases the youth are following the trails of movers and shakers that came before us.
But with that being said, what are the goals of this Green New Deal and maybe more importantly…
Should Black and Brown people care?
In many instances, politicians might sell an idea to the most marginalized that ultimately won’t benefit us in the end.
Well first, a couple of things on the Green New Deal, according to NPR:
1. Right now, this is a non-binding resolution
Ocasio-Cortez isn’t actually introducing a bill that would create programs if passed by Congress. Instead, she’s introducing a proposal to the House entitled “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” If agreed upon, the House will affirm that the initiatives in the proposal should be carried out in the coming years. Meanwhile, Democrat Sen. Ed Markey is introducing a companion proposal to the Senate.
2. The goal of the proposal is to create millions of “good, high-wage jobs” by aiming for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
No matter if you’re Black, Brown, alabaster…
Who doesn’t like a good “high-wage job?”
As for greenhouse gases…they’re not cute. They trap a lot of heat in the atmosphere which contributes to global warming and thus climate change, and thus some of the bizarre (and dangerous) weather we’ve been experiencing lately.
3. It’s urgent
According to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world has 12 years to reverse greenhouse gas emission trends in order to prevent irreversible global warming.
So yea, the Green New Deal is trying to carry out it’s plan in the next ten years.
4. The U.S. stay emitting greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide being the biggest one), and that’s gotta stop.
According to the resolution, the U.S. is “responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions, having emitted 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014.
5. The goal is to switch from energy that creates greenhouse gases (e.g. the burning of fossil fuels) to clean, renewable energy (e.g. solar energy, wind energy, etc.)
Just think about how oil powers cars or how coal might power electricity.
The Green New Deal is trying to stop all of that and switch to renewable energy.
O.K. so now that we know the primary goals, how are we going to get this, clean renewable energy AND HOW ARE BLACK & BROWN PEOPLE GOING TO BE AFFECTED?
More on Black and Brown people soon. But first, below are some strategies the New Deal laid out in a FAQ sheet and summarized by NPR. A lot of these strategies hope to create new jobs, which can boost the economy:
- “upgrading all existing buildings” in the U.S. for energy efficiency;
- working with farmers “to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions … as much as is technologically feasible” (while supporting family farms and championing “universal access to healthy food”);
- “Overhauling transportation systems” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — including expanding electric car manufacturing, creating “charging stations everywhere,” and broadening high-speed rail to “a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary”
Now for the big question…
How will this affect Black and Brown people?
Well first off, Black and Brown people are deeply affected by greenhouse gases and things that pollute the air.
According to a 2018 Environmental Protection Agency report, when studying areas most affected by particular air emissions, such as soot, people of color and especially Black people are affected the most.
The report showed that “those in poverty had 1.35 times higher burden than did the overall population, and non-Whites had 1.28 times higher burden. Blacks, specifically, had 1.54 times higher burden than did the overall population.” This equates to a 54 percent increase for Black people, and it shows that class still doesn’t necessarily keep Black people from dangerous pollution.
With many factories and polluting facilities close to Black communities, the health risks increase, including higher rates of asthma, heart attacks and lowered life expectancy rates.
Transitioning to clean, renewable energy will help decrease these risks.
Now granted, the Green New Deal doesn’t explicitly say it’s goal is to benefit Black and Brown communities, but it does say it’s goal is “to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth…”
A.K.A the front line and vulnerable communities, according to the resolution.
The New Deal FAQ sheet listed out 15 requirements to adhere to these goals, which you can check out here.
So again, should Black and Brown people care about the Green New Deal?
But it’ll take a lot more than an announcement and a lengthy fact sheet to get the masses hype.
The impact of the Green New Deal will only be felt with further research, accountability and the actions of leaders to get more Black and Brown people invested.