How does a political movement make a radical plan sound not quite so radical? Offer several versions of the plan and let political figures be vague about what version they support.
Just what is “the Green New Deal”? It depends upon which one you mean.
There was the 2008 proposal from the U.K’s New Economic Foundation, which called for making “‘every building a power station,” praised “rapidly rising carbon taxes” and explicitly declared, “at the heart of a successful programme to tackle climate change will be ever-rising fuel costs per unit of economic activity.” It also referred to “the imminence of peak oil.”
(Can we take a moment to laugh at the “peak oil” discussion of a decade ago? According to 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, the world achieved a new oil-production record of 92.6 million barrels per day, which is the eighth straight year global-oil production has increased. New estimates of worldwide proven-oil reserves are at about 1.67 trillion barrels. At this pace, we would exhaust the current reserves in about 50 years, and that’s assuming we make no discoveries of additional supplies and make no innovations in improving efficiency in oil usage.)
There’s the Data for Progress plan, which at least left the door open to nuclear power. But that plan also wanted “100 percent of [automobile] sales [to be] zero emission passenger and light duty vehicles by 2030, followed with a swift phase out of internal combustion engines.” That’s now less than eleven years from now.
Then there’s the Green Party’s “Green New Deal” which I discussed earlier this year. I found it pretty infuriating that there had been no real public discussion of proposals like “cut military spending by at least half,” withdrawing all U.S. troops from overseas, replacing about 88 percent of America’s current energy sources (nuclear power, coal, natural gas, liquid natural gas, and oil), banning all internal-combustion engine cars and “replacing non-essential individual means of transport with high-quality and modern mass transit” — which is another way of saying banning the private ownership of cars.
So Thursday Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and several other Congressional Democrats introduced the legislative text of a resolution calling for the Green New Deal. Keep in mind, this resolution wouldn’t do anything, even if it passed both the House and Senate. The resolution simply declares that “it is the sense of the House of Representatives that it is the duty of the federal government to create a Green New Deal.” Passage would be a symbolic victory, but it wouldn’t change current policies.