The Green New Deal is long on vision, short on details, and a potential windfall for startups
The Green New Deal has landed.
Proposed by the rising star of the Democratic Party, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Senator Edward Markey, a longtime advocate for decarbonization in both the House and the Senate, the sweeping proposal is a grand vision for what a progressive push to rebuild American institutions for the 21st century looks like. But it’s a plan that’s long on promise and short on details.
And it’s unlikely to gain much traction in Washington.
The proposal is notable for the support it has received in the Democratic party, particularly in the Party’s progressive wing, and could be a massive boost to a number of startup technology companies that are looking for government support as they look to commercialize their technologies.
Recognizing the centrality of climate change to the disasters that have pounded the U.S. in the past five years, and the role the bill declares “the United States must take a leading role in reducing emissions through economic transformation.”
That economic transformation touches on many areas where startup technology companies are already working to develop solutions — meaning the Green New Deal could likely result in huge gains for companies developing technologies for everything from transportation, finance, new agriculture, energy generation and efficiency, food production and even housing and construction.
In part, it’s a sign of the breadth and depth of innovation in America and the ambitions of venture investors who now believe that private industry can disrupt everything. What will be interesting is watching how these ambitions align with the policy and priorities of a movement that would like to see government take back some of the ground it has lost to private industry.
As the bill states:
“… it is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal— (A) to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition 4 for all communities and workers; (B) to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic 6 security for all people of the United States; (C) to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century; (D) to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come — (i) clean air and water; (ii) climate and community resiliency; (iii) healthy food; (iv) access to nature; and (v) a sustainable environment; and (E) to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as “frontline and vulnerable communities”)”
To achieve these lofty goals, the bill’s authors, and the party seem to be hitching their wagon to a load of policy initiatives that are only possible through technological innovation.
Improving climate resiliency, infrastructure upgrades, water purification and desalination; zero-emission energy sources; clean manufacturing; sustainable farming; vehicle electrification; high-speed rail development; waste cleanup and removal are all dependent on technology being commercialized by startups.
At the same time, the the bill would require greater federal oversight to ensure that the work these startups are doing includes and accounts for communities that have been marginalized or left behind by the progress these technologies enables.
It’s a fine line that the Democrats are offering and little bottom-line details on how all of this would get funded.
Right now, the policy is a line in the sand — and one that could shape policymaking in the next two years — but only if Democratic House leadership comes on board.
With many representatives coming from swing districts where decarbonization policies and the labor and social justice goals that are attached to them, the Green New Deal may have a hard time event getting through the house. And with a Republican Senate — the bill seems dead on arrival.
But what isn’t up for debate — at least among scientists — is the scale of the problem and the immediate threat that climate change poses.
Weather and climate-related disasters cost the US $80 billion in 2018, but go ahead and say climate change isn’t real
There’s already been nearly $500 billion in damages that scientists directly attribute to climatological changes that humans have wrought on the planet. The risks for future catastrophes that will cost billions of dollars more and risks untold numbers of lives are only increasing.
If the bill only serves as a conversation starter — and moves policy along toward modest goals like a price on carbon to encourage the acceleration of carbon neutral or carbon-reducing technologies that would be a win.. for the country, and for the investors whose technologies are likely to be called upon to provide solutions.
Green New Deal Resolution by on Scribd