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What is the Green New Deal? Environmental, Social, & Economic Impacts

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines by proposing a “Green New Deal” that would make climate change a priority for our government, set new goals and standards for energy production, and address pervasive economic issues as well. Predictably, a chorus of naysayers has emerged to call the plan unfeasible and even unnecessary. However, many politicians and renewable energy advocates support the idea.

Let’s examine what this Green New Deal is shaping up to mean and how it could change the energy landscape in the United States.

Green New Deal: Environmental Goals

Ocasio-Cortez’s website contains a draft resolution that outlines a number of the goals that would be prioritized under the Green New Deal. Within a 10-year window from the adoption of the resolution, goals include “meeting 100% of national power demand through renewable sources,” “building a national, energy-efficient, ‘smart’ grid,” and “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.” The Green New Deal also calls for the elimination of greenhouse gas production in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and infrastructure.

These are very ambitious goals, but they reflect the passion and commitment of an ever-growing coalition that acknowledges the threat of climate change and is working to address it in meaningful, systematic ways. As Axios notes, groups that have rallied behind the Green New Deal include “the Center for Biological Diversity, the Climate Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Food & Water Watch, Oil Change USA and more,” ultimately numbering in the hundreds of national and local organizations. Additionally, a number of high-profile Democratic politicians (many of them 2020 presidential hopefuls), including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, and Beto O’Rourke, have expressed support for the idea of “a Green New Deal.”

Ocasio-Cortez writes that her Green New Deal includes “making ‘green’ technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely greenhouse gas neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal.” Ambitious? Yes. Important and inspiring? Absolutely.

Green New Deal: Economic Impact

Alongside the environmental goals set forth in the Green New Deal is a plan that would help the emerging alternative energy industry continue to drive job growth, embrace innovation, and ultimately address systemic economic inequality by creating opportunities for those who want to work in the green economy. This would include education and job training programs to prepare a new workforce for careers in alternative energy technology development, implementation, and maintenance.

In short, just as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal both provided opportunity for impoverished American workers and accomplished massive infrastructure and public works projects, the Green New Deal aims to mobilize today’s workforce towards achieving economic and environmental stability and sustainability.

An Alternative Energy Economy

How might this set of policies, if implemented, impact the alternative energy industry? A short series recently published by Greentech Media notes that “with limited exceptions, clean energy advocates are enthusiastic” about the Green New Deal. “A Green New Deal must fundamentally transform the electric grid into a platform for innovation and allow new business models to flourish,” notes energy storage expert Daniel Finn-Foley, who also states that “a national (renewable portfolio standard) may be the only politically feasible way to transition the entire economy to clean energy.”

The Green New Deal would not only allow the alternative energy industry to continue its record of driving job growth and technological development, it would place it at the center of a national project that could reshape our society and the world around us for centuries to come. The responsibility would be immense, but then so are the challenges that we are facing as a result of decades of reliance on coal and oil for energy.

There are many, many unknowns surrounding the idea of a Green New Deal, but it is vital that we seek wide-ranging solutions to the problem of man-made global warming. The alternative energy industry is adaptable, scalable, and eager to prove its worth on a national scale.

It may take years before we see a policy like the Green New Deal implemented, but the conversation it has created is already bringing awareness to the power of green technologies to impact our future for the better. At Solar Design Studio, we’re proud to be part of that conversation. Contact us today to learn more.

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