Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ed Markey unveil ‘Green New Deal’ resolution

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts unveiled their "Green New Deal" resolution Thursday, which outlines the definition of the massive piece of legislation the two hope will tackle a litany of issues related to the US' role in global climate change.

"Climate change and our environmental challenges are one of the biggest existential threats to our way of life. Not just as a nation, but as a world," Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference outside of the Capitol Building.

"What this resolution is doing is saying this is our first step. Our first step is to define the problem and define the scope of the solution," she added. "And so we're here to say that small, incremental policy solutions are not enough. They can be part of a solution but they are not the solution unto itself."

The legislation has become a key policy initiative for Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive New Yorker who, shortly after being elected in November, joined the Sunrise Movement to protest over the climate change issue in the office of then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She later paired up with Markey, who represents Massachusetts, to begin working on the legislation.

Ocasio-Cortez, surrounded by Markey and other congressional Democrats, said that the resolution is "comprehensive, it is thoughtful, it is compassionate and it is extremely economically strategic as well."

In an interview with NPR earlier Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said that although their proposed solutions are bold, they're "nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us to our country, to the world."

"And so while carbon taxes are nice, while things like cap and trade are nice, it's not what's going to save the planet. 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," she told "Morning Edition" co-host Steve Inskeep.

The resolution says that the deal will "promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression" to a dozen communities, including indigenous peoples, migrant communities and low-income workers.

"So really the heart of the Green New Deal is about social justice and it's about allowing and fighting for things like fully-funded pensions for coal miners in West Virginia, fighting for clean water in Flint, and fighting for the ability of indigenous peoples to take a leadership role in in where we're moving as a country," Ocasio-Cortez told Inskeep.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Pelosi said that while she hasn't yet seen the details of the proposal, "I do know that it's enthusiastic, and we welcome all the enthusiasm that's out there."

"I'm very excited about it all, and I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals," she added.

The speaker's comments are starkly different from what she said in an interview with Politico on Wednesday in which she told the paper that the deal "will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive."

"The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it right?" she told Politico.

Here are some of the key points addressed in the six-page resolution that lays out the vision for the "Green New Deal."

  • "(Achieve) net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers."
  • Secure clean air, water, healthy food and a sustainable environment "for generations to come."
  • Create millions of "good, high-wage jobs" that ensure financial prosperity for all Americans.
  • Change the country's power demand so that 100% of it comes from "clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources."
  • Mitigate and manage "the long-term adverse health, economic, and other effects of pollution and climate change."
  • Restore and protect "threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems through locally appropriate and science-based projects that enhance biodiversity and support climate resiliency."
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