For those of us who think of climate change all day, who have been waiting for a policy solution that recognizes the opportunity in addressing climate change, the Green New Deal should have been the answer to our prayers. While Flat World Partners agree with most of its ideas and proposals, our position is a bit more nuanced and question the professionalism of its release. Not only was it initially published “by accident” before being fully vetted by presidential candidates who would want to endorse it, there were errors in the plan’s FAQs that apparently had the mistaken words “for all who are unable or unwilling to work”. While this just added fodder to antagonist derision, these amateurish mistakes did not prompt our nuanced views even though one has to be grateful to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) for forcing this issue to a new level of prominence in public debate.
While one can be whole-heartedly in support of the spirit, intent and even the specific ideas of the Green New Deal, we don’t have time to miss certain key points. If our goal is to really avert the threat of irreversible climate change, it’s time for a considered and data-oriented approach, not open ended, unattainable goals that will disappoint. One particular issue that we need to point out is that the US is only 14% of global emissions while China is roughly twice that and it was relieving to find that Bloomberg Opinion recognizing this. The piece suggests 1) Focus on global emissions: e.g. China and India. Invest heavily in technology research that will reduce the emissions intensity of the most intensive industrial and agricultural processes. Then, share that with these global countries in a way that does not threaten their economic growth. 2) End government subsidies for the fossil fuel companies and put those funds into the companies and technologies that will be mission critical: battery-less micro-grid, utility-scale renewables, carbon-to-value technology, electrification of transport, smart and precision agriculture, the use of IOT in energy efficiency, etc. 3) How can AOC be mildly dismissive of a carbon tax? Yes, James Baker III is an old-school conservative, but his carbon tax plan and plea for progressive taxation makes sense and could finance many of the social goals that AOC wanted.
The goals of averting climate risk and making the country more egalitarian can be simultaneously achieved if we can add at least some of this thinking to the Green New Deal. We should take our time to create a proposal that also considers some international aid, technological development and tax measures that will support greater economic equality.
The White House Investigates whether Climate Change is a National Security Threat and Nasa Scientist says “This is like assembling a panel of gravity sceptics who insist is safe to jump off tall buildings”
Given that the science indicates that stated fossil reserves will need to be left in the ground and that many investors stand to experience losses related to that, perhaps a compensation for that would end the obstruction we see from these industries?! With 12 years until irreversible damage will occur, drastic measures should be considered.
“Merchants of Doubt” Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway
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