Editorial:  Green New Deal aspirational or delusional?

Published: 2/14/2019 7:32:28 PM
Modified: 2/14/2019 7:32:36 PM

Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts is leading the call in Congress for a Green New Deal intended to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and to create thousands of renewable energy jobs in the process.

The plan aims to eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030 with a moonshot conversion from fossil fuels power generation to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

For those who still don’t believe the nearly unanimous consensus of the world’s climate scientists and our own experience with extreme weather predicted by the global warming computer models, this probably doesn’t make much sense. And, if you live in a state where livelihoods rely on coal, oil and gas production, the idea of eliminating these fuels probably seems crazy and scary at the same time – even if you accept the reality of climate change.

But with each passing year, the effects of climate change seem harder to ignore, and the time has come to find ways to head it off and to mitigate with the changes we’ve already triggered and can’t reverse — like those more powerful hurricanes we’ve seen in recent years. Massachusetts state government and some of our towns leaders are already taking first steps in this direction locally.

So, while we think that the nonbinding Green New Deal resolution in Congress is more aspirational than practical at this point, we as a society and as a nation, do need a powerful jolt to start addressing climate change in a more comprehensive, concrete way.

We applaud Markey for leading the charge with this formal resolution that can be debated in Congress, discussed in our living rooms and boardrooms and that perhaps spurs policy makers to begin tracing the outlines of an action plan – sooner rather than later.

Eventually everyone will have to come around — even those with vested financial interests in the status quo — oil companies, and their customers like us, for example.

Markey predicts more Democrats — including many of the current crop of progressive presidential hopefuls — will sign on and said even some Republicans may back the resolution.

“This is now a voting issue across the country,” he said. “The green generation has risen up and they are saying they want this issue solved” as one of the top two or three issues in the 2020 election.”

The resolution sets a goal to meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” including nuclear and dramatic increases in wind and solar power. The Green New Deal goes far beyond the Clean Power Plan proposed by former President BarackObama, which was killed by the current administration in part because it imposed emissions limits on coal-fired power plants.

The new New Deal is not likely to go far in Congress, where many Republicans call it delusional, and where even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, gave it only a tepid acknowledgement, saying “I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals” to address climate change.

We agree with her. Even as we doubt the Green New Deal will be adopted and put into motion any time soon, we hope Markey and his allies in the environmental movements blaze a path that the more apprehensive, some would say practical, among us can follow.

Because we are going to have to go down that path eventually.

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