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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reveals what's in the "Green New Deal." Here's what you need to know.

“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us.”

by Tim Hume
Feb 7 2019, 2:07pm

Getty images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) unveiled details of her “Green New Deal” Thursday, a hugely ambitious plan to remodel the U.S. economy and shift the country to clean, renewable energy within a decade.

The progressive policy package, developed with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would involve fundamental and rapid changes to boost the share of U.S. energy generated from solar and wind from its current 10 percent to close to 100 percent within 10 years.

The framework is based on an understanding that it's the government’s duty to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” by converting the country’s energy supply to “clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources” — creating jobs and addressing inequality in the process.

The lawmakers have scheduled a news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday to discuss their much-vaunted blueprint. Though it has received a lot of buzz, the legislation faces no chance of gaining support in the GOP-controlled Senate, where Republicans have already dismissed it as impossible to realize and prohibitively expensive.

It’s likely to be received even less warmly by President Donald Trump, who pulled Washington out of the Paris climate accords and recently joked that the polar vortex showed that global warming was a myth.

Nevertheless, the bold proposal could signal a shift in the long-stalled climate debate in Washington toward a more ambitious approach to tackling climate change.

The plan, with its conscious echoes of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era “New Deal,” is being co-sponsored by 60 members of the House and nine senators, although even the plan’s architects note it would require “massive” amounts of investment.

  • As well as calling for the dramatic expansion of the country’s renewable energy resources, the plan proposes:
  • “Upgrading all existing buildings" in the United States to make them energy efficient, and developing a smart grid.
  • A radical overhaul of the country’s transport infrastructure to eliminate emissions “as much as technologically feasible.” This would involve expanding electric car manufacturing, installing charging stations “everywhere” and developing high-speed rail links to “a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”
  • Restoring threatened lands and hazardous waste sites.
  • Working with farmers to build a more sustainable food system that “ensures universal access to healthy food” and clean water.
  • The plan also includes social justice objectives such as "high-quality health care" for all Americans, a guaranteed job "with a family-sustaining benefit provisions.” Another goal is “to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, de-industrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”

Here's the full outline:

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Ocasio-Cortez told NPR that the plan’s ambitious scope was a reflection of the scale of the problem the planet is facing.

“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” she said in an interview aired Thursday.

“It could be part of a larger solution, but no one has actually scoped out what that larger solution would entail. And so that's really what we're trying to accomplish with the Green New Deal.”

Cover image: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Democratic of the 14th congressional district of the House Of Representatives talks with a reporter after giving a passionate speech to kick off the 3rd Annual Woman's March in the borough of Manhattan in NY on January 19, 2019, USA. (Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)