Despite Few Details And Much Doubt, The Green New Deal Generates Enthusiasm The proposal to address climate change is short on specifics and wildly ambitious. Seasoned energy experts doubt it can work, but give it credit for energizing young activists.

Despite Few Details And Much Doubt, The Green New Deal Generates Enthusiasm

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Let's hear more about one thing Kelsey mentioned there. We heard a lot on the program yesterday about congressional Democrats' new plan to address climate change. The Green New Deal, as it's being called, would also transform the U.S. economy. This plan is getting a lot of attention, even though it's unlikely to pass both houses of Congress. NPR's Jeff Brady has more.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: The Green New Deal aims to eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030.


ED MARKEY: Our energy future will not be found in the dark of a mine but in the light of the sun.

BRADY: Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey announced the resolution on Capitol Hill with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: All great American programs, everything from the Great Society to the New Deal, started with a vision for our future.

BRADY: The vision in the Green New Deal is more framework than a specific plan. It doesn't even mention some of the usual ideas for addressing climate change, such as carbon taxes or cap and trade programs. It does call for more renewable energy, public transportation and lots of spending to make that happen. Environmental groups generally support the resolution. But a few, like Nicole Ghio with Friends of the Earth, wanted a specific call to end fossil fuels.

NICOLE GHIO: We have 12 years, according to science, if we are going to meet the challenge of the climate crisis. And to do that, we have to tackle fossil fuels head on. And the resolution just doesn't quite get us there.

BRADY: The oil industry says it's already reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector as coal plants switch to natural gas. These days, transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Green New Deal backers say they want more high-speed trains to make air travel less necessary and more electric cars and charging stations. Energy expert Amy Myers Jaffe with the Council on Foreign Relations says changing the existing fleet of cars in the U.S. would be an extraordinary effort.

AMY MYERS JAFFE: There's 350 million liquid fuel cars on the road today in the United States. And most Americans don't buy a new car except every decade.

BRADY: Backers say they also want to eventually phase out nuclear energy. That industry argues its electricity is carbon free and should be a part of any program addressing climate change. And the proposal takes aim at methane from cows. Methane is an especially potent greenhouse gas. And cows produce a lot of it. Colin Woodall with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says responding to the resolution is difficult because details about his industry are thin.

COLIN WOODALL: They need to do a whole lot more homework and much more research and analysis before we can ever really even engage in this discussion.

BRADY: So far, the plan's biggest success may be energizing thousands of young activists.


ARU SHINEY-AJAY: Welcome to the launch of the 2019 Green New Deal campaign.

BRADY: A group called the Sunrise Movement held a web meeting with supporters around the country. Organizers planned three weeks of activism, including visits to pressure members of Congress to sign on to the Green New Deal. Eighteen-year-old Jeremy Ornstein says if that doesn't happen by February 26...

JEREMY ORNSTEIN: Sunrise clubs across the country are going to take over our representatives' offices, demanding that they support the resolution for a Green New Deal. It'll be epic.

BRADY: Some have criticized activists for not understanding the scope of what they're demanding. Amy Myers Jaffe hopes older, more experienced policymakers won't do that.

MYERS JAFFE: We need not to discourage them. You know, they have an energy and a will to innovation that is not only infectious but inspiring.

BRADY: And, Jaffe says, that could be what's needed to address a problem as big as climate change. Jeff Brady, NPR News.


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