For those of us who want the Green New Deal to come to fruition one day soon, Rhiana Gunn-Wright is someone we ought to know about.
As part of a think tank called New Consensus, Gunn-Wright has been tasked with leading the policy development that will result in an actionable (and ya, unprecedented) legislative plan to reach the goals of the Green New Deal.
We wanted to profile Gunn-Wright as her role in our collective future now seems incredibly significant. But first, let’s lay out a high level overview of what’s been proposed in the Green New Deal.
About the Green New Deal
A key thing to understand is the Green New Deal is not a policy document. It’s a set of goals and principles meant to guide a 2 year policy development process.
The goals of the Green New Deal, as laid out by New Consensus:
- Achieve net-zero emissions
- Create millions of high wage jobs
- Invest in infrastructure and industry
- Secure clean air and water, climate and community resilience
- Promote justice and equity
And on that ambitious note, let’s discover the woman leading this process.
The Policy Architect: Rhiana Gunn-Wright
Rhiana Gunn-Wright is a seasoned policy analyst and 2013 Rhode’s Scholar who has worked across an array of policy areas including:
- Higher Education
- Law Enforcement
- Public Health
- Environmental Justice
It’s this diverse combination of experiences that give her the perspective and skillset to approach this project.
As to the question of “why her?”, she admits in a podcast interview with Vox’s David Roberts, tongue in cheek, “I was the person who showed up and was dumb enough to be like yeah, yeah I’ll work on this.” Gunn-Wright goes on to share key elements of her philosophy and approach.
Here are some points we found to be insightful:
- Gunn-Wright asserts that addressing climate change at the speed and scale that we need to cannot be separated from addressing the needs of the people whose jobs and lives will be affected by the rapid change. This is why the Green New Deal pairs together social-related goals with emissions targets.
- Her approach to developing policy is to get outside the building and into the field. She aims to connect disconnected stakeholders, get clear on problem definitions, and discover “red lines and green lines” (what must be in there and what absolutely cannot be in there).
- Gunn-Wright believes stories are just as important as data. That listening to real people talk about their experiences is essential. And that just because something can’t be represented in numbers, doesn’t make it not matter.
More on the Green New Deal:
Act on Climate
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