The Green New Deal (GND) and the OFF Act (OFF) are similar, complementary pieces of legislation that are attempting to address the issue of climate change. GND is a resolution that will help set Congress’ priorities; whereas, OFF is a bill that will be the legally enforceable change we desperately need.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in 2018 alerting us that we have a decade to radically shift the global economy and energy production to a green, sustainable, fossil fuel free system or we will experience a catastrophic amount of warming. We must get Congress to swiftly pass the GND and, subsequently, a comprehensive OFF Act to address this global emergency. Getting this done will require that both measures start moving forward now, as the legislative process can be lengthy. The urgency we need will require a groundswell of support from the people, our larger communities & organizations, businesses, and our legislators.
We must not leave this up to our legislators or even organizations to get this done. There are actions we can all take to give them the required support. It is our responsibility to educate one another about the facts and raise awareness about both GND & OFF. We will aid in creating constructive dialogue to that end. Additionally, we need our legislators to urgently act on fact-based information; we will pressure them to do so.
#1: The Green New Deal has recently gained in popularity for its bold ambitions to prioritize the health of people and the economy of the U.S. over the profit of the fossil fuel industry. Most people don’t know, however, that there is complementing legislation known as the OFF Act. While there are some differences between the measures, they do not appear to be significant enough to be in opposition and should actually complement each other. This matters as we build a strategy towards a green new deal that will work for our environment, economy, and jobs.
- The ultimate goal of both the Green New Deal (GND) and the OFF Act (OFF) is to prioritize the health of people and the economy of the U.S. over the profit of the fossil fuel industry.
- GND’s goals are to create net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, millions of high-wage jobs, investment in infrastructure, clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, a sustainable environment, and promoting economic justice and equity for vulnerable communities.
- The OFF Act (OFF) states its main purpose being “to justly transition away from fossil fuel sources of energy to 100 percent clean energy by 2035, and for other purposes.”
- Both Green New Deal (GND) and the OFF Act (OFF) describe how the United States can be a leader in the world in mitigating the effects of pollution, while also providing economic security for people regardless of their wealth.
- Both Green New Deal (GND) and OFF Act (OFF) take into account the working classes and diverse communities, insisting that any clean-energy program work with all communities; that incentives be in place for businesses, consumers, and communities to assist in the transition by offering training for workers;subsidize clean energy companies instead of fossil fuel companies; and provide benefits for consumers who choose clean energy alternatives.
- While the OFF Act (OFF) is similar to the Green New Deal (GND), some consider it smaller in scope because the OFF Act calls for the elimination of fossil fuel emissions by 2035 while GND’s deadline is 2030. Additionally, the OFF Act does not include a jobs/healthcare guarantee or building replacement as stated in the GND.
- The OFF Act (OFF) is a bill while Green New Deal (GND) is a resolution, making the passage of GND not legally enforceable.
- Since most measures are amended as they move through the legislative process (committee hearings, floor votes), it would seem beneficial to discuss the best parts of each measure, and insist that both move forward.
- For example, the resolution could pass as a statement that Congress intends to work towards these goals, while the bill is debated for details before becoming law.
- As both measures point out, we have no time to waste when it comes to implementing these goals, but if we don’t do the work to educate the public and legislators, while demanding that legally binding legislation is voted on, then how else will we get this done?
#2: A green new deal has a rich history that dates back to 1964, and includes what should be a natural coalition of allies, from legislators like Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Gabbard to political parties like The Green Party to organizations like Bioneers, The People’s Climate Movement to Food and Water Watch to Sunrise Movement.
- The concept of a green new deal started with the National Economic Conversion Commission (NECC). In 1964, Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) wanted to “reallocate military spending” to a program that would employ members of the military to “fight environmental problems,” such as air and water pollution.
- In 2003, Bioneers held a conference where the founder, Kenny Ausubel, first used the term “Green New Deal”: “We need a Green New Deal, a massive global investment in repairing the environment, transforming our infrastructures, and restoring people.
- ”The Green Party of the United States has origins with Global Greens “Green New Deal Task Force” in 2006. The Global Greens is the partnership of the world’s Green parties and political movements working cooperatively to implement the Global Greens Charter.
- The 2014 IPCC report states the dangers of global temperature increases of more than 1.5 degrees C. In order to prevent that rise in temperature, we must decrease our global carbon emissions by 17% per year starting in 2016.
- The People’s Climate Movement operates on the mission of combining justice for workers and the environment: “We envision a world where our private and public leaders prioritize the protection of our planet; where solutions to remedy climate change are equitable, lift up those that are most impacted, and are rooted in racial and economic justice.”
- Currently, People’s Climate Change (PCM) is strictly involved in local state engagement in the following states: Florida, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.
- PCM is also behind several nationwide movements including People’s Climate March (2014), National Day of Action (2015), 100 Days Mobilization (2017) and in 2018 led efforts to Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice with over 30,000 people in the streets of San Francisco to message the leaders at the Global Climate Action Summit.
- The Climate Mobilization formed in 2014, recognizing the climate crisis as an emergency that must be addressed with “a WWII-scale mobilization” to rapidly shift to a carbon-free economy. The Climate Mobilization’s Victory Plan (2016) calls for a WWII-level mobilization of the economy to combat the climate crisis.
- Food and Water Watch (FWW) released an analysis arguing for a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035. In mid 2017, they created a project called Off Fossil Fuels aimed at creating political change through grassroots organizing and “with climate deniers in the White House and Congress, and the crisis growing more dangerous every day, it was time to step it up and help build a movement to win.”
- The Sunrise Movement appears to be among the newest of the environmental organizations working on a Green New Deal, specifically reaching out to “young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.”
- September 2017, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) introduced “The Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act” (OFF).
- February 2019, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal”(Green New Deal / GND).
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) signed on to the Climate Mobilization’s Pledge to Mobilize before her primary election.
- Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has been a long-time advocate for action on climate change, co-authoring the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (better known as the Waxman-Markey bill), which aimed to draw down greenhouse gases and create green jobs.
- November 2018, Food and Water Watch argued that with the introduction of the Green New Deal (GND), Congress should enact the OFF Act since it has similar goals with a “clear path, guided by the latest science,” that was “introduced more than a year ago” and “encapsulates the immediate solution to our climate crisis so desperately needed.”
- Updates to the Green Party’s proposals and the Green New Deal (GND) are responses to the 2018 IPCC report and the Fourth National Climate Assessment (2018), which predict catastrophic consequences of climate change without drastic changes in fossil fuel consumption by 2040.
#3: Getting a green new deal passed through congress will require a groundswell of support that must include educating the public, legislators, unions, and business owners. Meanwhile, since we must reduce our CO2 emissions drastically by 2030, we have no time to waste. We must each take responsibility for the success of these measures. We must take action now.
- Find out if your representatives have signed on to cosponsor the Green New Deal (GND) and the OFF Act (OFF). If they have, thank them. If they haven’t, tell them how important this is for them to co-sponsor. You can contact them via social media, phone, and/or email.
- Contact your state legislators and ask them to introduce a resolution at the state level that says your state wants these measures to pass.
- Get active with one or more of the organizations that are working on these measures. Ask them to work together as a coalition.
- Can’t donate your time? Donate a few bucks to help the organizations working on these policies to keep the lights on. This is how grassroots, groundswell, groundbreaking movements work.
- Send your friends, family, and strangers to documented websites.
- Show your friends, family, and strangers the economic costs/benefits.
We will no longer be silenced.
- Contact the legislators listed below to thank them for their work and ask that they work together.
- Contact the environmental organizations listed below to thank them for their work and ask that they work together.
- Contact Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi to insist on a vote for GND & OFF.
- See the list for other actions you can take in main point #3 above.
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