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The New York Times reported on a new study published last week that found that older people are “significant contributors” to climate change because energy consumption increases with a person’s age, but also have experienced observable climate changes in their lifetimes. Meanwhile, The Washington Post found that many state and local politicians are putting the Green New Deal (GND) label on their own proposals to halt the climate crisis because the GND is so popular with young voters, even though the Sunrise Movement (the youth organization whose protests sparked the proposal) often pushes back on these proposals saying they don’t go far enough.
Why This Matters:These two news reports, in a nutshell, encapsulate the climate change generation gap. Older people have been the cause of greenhouse gas emissions that resulted in the climate crisis. They are also continuing to add to the problem because of their increasing energy use. The confluence of an aging population and an increasingly warm climate will likely expand the scope of the impacts, challenging the supply and demand of energy for the older population. And as the inheritors of the problem, young people are anxious for the sweeping changes represented by a so-called Green New Deal, even if the policies behind the label are not the most extreme versions of the GND proposal. Meanwhile, older Democrats are less enthusiastically behind any proposal labeled as a GND, even though they are the ones who can be the most certain that climate change is real and already happening because they have lived long enough to witness the changes themselves.
The Fuzzy GND: Meanwhile, legislators seem somewhat comfortable with a more moderate and less defined set of policy ideas and proposals in order to ensure they appeal to a wide swath of the Democratic Party. The Post cites the fact that the energy committee of the AFL-CIO “lambasted” Ocasio-Cortez’s GND proposal as “not achievable or realistic.” But in Maine, state legislators behind the GND there have sought the buy-in of labor unions early when drafting their own respective plans and proposals on the climate change.
Today is World Environment Day. As you read this, it is clear that globally we are at a crossroads and that the inequities we see at home are also reflected across the broader planet. The pandemic has instigated a moment to re-examine our relationship with nature and the planet’s resources.
Why This Matters: Most of the world is moving ahead on this reset they see conserving nature and economic development as consistent
The Senate Democrats’ Environmental Justice Caucus laid out in a letter on Monday their vision for the next round of economic stimulus funding and the benefits in their proposal are intended to address the inequities of the virus’ impacts on the poor and minorities.
Why This Matters: These 16 Democrats are speaking up on behalf of members of low income, rural and communities of color (known as an environmental justice or frontline communities) who are especially vulnerable to the virus and don’t have access to quality health care that could vastly improve their chances of recovery.
Congress and the Trump administration are beginning to outline the Phase 4 Stimulus package, but there seems to be little mention of “clean” much less “green” provisions being included, which means there would need to be a Phase 5 package or these items will be left out completely.
Why This Matters: These items and many other similar ones that have been labeled as “green” were left out of previous bills because they were dubbed as unnecessary to battle the immediate health and economic impacts of the COVID-19.
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