“I think it is a fantastic idea and I think it is the secret, or one of the secrets, to winning 2020,” Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has worked with progressives like Ocasio-Cortez, said of the Green New Deal. “It combines an issue that Democrats are way ahead on — the environment — and an issue they need to desperately get ahead on — the economy.”

The Green New Deal has become a sort of umbrella term for a list of ideas for economic change, with the fight against climate change at its core. At the moment, quite little is known about the specifics of the Green New Deal. Still, the general idea projected to the public is one that includes a total switch to “clean” renewable energy — by 2030. It also encompasses an increase in the taxes of high-end earners, a federal guarantee for good jobs to all Americans, retrofits for buildings across the country and transition to renewable-energy-powered transportation.

“Liberal research group Data for Progress has identified 31 bills introduced last Congress that could be part of the Green New Deal, including Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas)’s bill, H.R. 2830, to eliminate methane leaks from natural gas infrastructure, as well as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)’s measure, H.R. 3671, to electrify transportation and shift to renewable sources by 2035, end subsidies and exports of fossil fuels and permanently extend renewable energy incentives.” according to Politico’s Zack Colman.

Transition to a renewable energy economy free from fossil fuels.

According to the document addressed to Congress, the Green New Deal, aims for a transition to an economy free from fossil fuels. Signed by over 600 environmental organizations and states, the letter outlines prioritizing a shift towards 100 percent renewable power generation by 2035 or earlier. Priorities also include defining renewable energy to exclude all combustion-based power generation, nuclear, biomass energy, large scale hydro and waste-to-energy technologies, and largely incorporates solar and wind energy.

This transition requires an upgrade in electricity grids- making them smart, efficient and decentralized. Also, electricity grids are equipped with the ability to incorporate battery storage and distributed energy systems that are democratically governed. The shift also requires an update of electricity regulations, in order to fit into our 21st-century society. This would allow for public ownership over electricity choice. It would also permit the distribution in energy sources, like community solar programs, which would support the electricity grid.

“As the United States shifts away from fossil fuels, we must simultaneously ramp up energy efficiency and transition to clean, renewable energy to power the nation’s economy”, the letter to Congress states. Details on how the Green New Deal plans to facilitate the shift from fossil fuels can be found in 100 percent renewable power generation.

The Green New Deal utilizes the power of existing laws

The already existing Clean Air Act has been successful in the protection of the air we breathe and in the reduction of greenhouse gases. The Green New Deal aims to utilize this act in the fulfillment of its climate targets by obligating Congress to maximize the power of the Clean Air Act, as seen in harnessing the full power of the clean air act.

“Congress should harness the full power of the statute by setting strict deadlines and providing adequate funding for EPA to carry out all its duties under all applicable sections of the Act, including implementing greenhouse pollution reduction requirements for cars, trucks, aircraft, ships, smokestacks and other sources, as well as a science-based national pollution cap”, the letter to Congress says.

The Green New Deal to ensure that transition empowers impacted communities and indigenous people

Part of the objectives of the Green New Deal is to set the support of communities who have historically been the first and most harmed by the dirty energy economy and its related industries, as one of the utmost priorities. It also aims to uphold and protect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples over legislation and development of their territory.

The letter addressed to Congress clearly states, “The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) must be upheld and implemented, along with treaties, instruments and decisions of international law that recognize that Indigenous Peoples have the right to give or withhold “free, prior and informed consent” to legislation and development of their lands, territories and/or natural resources, cultural properties and heritage, and other interests, and to receive remedies of losses and damages of property taken without consent”.

The Green New Deal generally aims to effect a complete overhaul in the use of fossil fuels before 2035 and replace them with the more environmentally friendly energy sources. Optimization of the Clean Air Act and the protection of traditionally affected communities are also parts of the Deal’s target.

Originally published at

KJ Meyer is an attorney, organizer & advocate working on labor and environmental issues. He writes on the Green New Deal and progressive framing at Progressive Labs. Follow him on Twitter @LivinOutWest

Writings on energy, efficiency, and sustainability in cities and beyond