EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Almost 20 years ago, writer Mark Hertsgaard suggested a bold idea to upend the climate debate. Arguing that ambitious climate action was politically impossible without simultaneously meeting people’s economic needs, he proposed a massive public works program to “retrofit everything from our farms to our factories” that would be “a huge source of jobs, profits, and general economic well-being.” He called it the Global Green Deal.
Now, as climate scientists warn ever more urgently that humanity must immediately transform and decarbonize our economies to avoid an unlivable future, this idea’s political moment has finally arrived. A new generation of progressive activists and lawmakers has forced debate over a Green New Deal into the national conversation. Likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker are just two of the scores of elected officials who have endorsed a Green New Deal. Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is organizing House Democrats to draft and pass corresponding legislation.
The Republican-controlled Senate may well reject such legislation, but that would only put the GOP further on the wrong side of history and clarify voters’ choices for 2020. A Green New Deal is both smart politics and smart policy, not to mention the only practical way at this late date to preserve a livable planet for our children. One of its core elements is a federal job guarantee, with a livable wage and health insurance, for all who want to work. This provision promises to attract vast numbers of economically struggling voters, making it politically risky for Republicans to oppose it.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.