This post intends to provide an at-a-glance overview of the major developments in the Green New Deal campaign since November 2018. Members are encouraged to read the hyperlinked articles for a more in-depth analysis of the national campaign.
Chances are that by now, most KSEC members and supporters have heard about the grassroots movement to support the Ocasio-Cortez-Markey Green New Deal resolution. Building off the energizing effects of the IPCC’s October 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and the new post-election Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats teamed up to occupy Nancy Pelosi’s office in mid-November. There, they pressured House leaders to create a climate action plan, sparking national commentary after newly-elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) joined their protest and spearheaded an effort in the House to create a Green New Deal. Meanwhile, Kentucky youth became a significant presence in the movement, with 75 attending a later DC action along with an estimated 925 others from around the country, and KSEC members helping to form Sunrise hubs in Lexington and Louisville.
Alongside the ballooning momentum behind the Green New Deal, pressure was mounting from grassroots groups to ensure that the concerns of frontline communities were not only considered, but centered in the new legislation. The Climate Justice Alliance, of which KSEC is a member, released a statement in early December offering cautious support for the GND with stipulations, which was well-supported by KSEC’s timely release of Solutions for a Just Kentucky: A Youth Perspective, which summarized the results of our Just Transition Tour and Solutions Survey. In early January, KSEC’s newly formed Steering Committee unanimously voted to sign onto a letter echoing CJA’s cautious support and encouraging lawmakers to pass legislation that includes a “thoughtful phaseout of fossil fuel production, a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, complete decarbonization of the transportation system, use of the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, a just transition to a new green economy and the adherence to treaties upholding Indigenous rights when pursuing these actions.”
Most recently, on February 7th, AOC introduced a non-binding resolution for a Green New Deal, setting broad goals that will guide specific policy later in the process, along with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), 67 co-sponsors in the House and 11 co-sponsors in the Senate. While some are still skeptical that the resolution holds up to the demands of grassroots groups, groups like Powershift Network - another alliance that KSEC participates in - continue to offer support for the proposal, noting that any future binding legislation will require its own round of evaluation to ensure that it protects those living in extractive economies as we transition to an economy that offers just, green jobs and 100% renewable energy.
In the coming months, KSEC supporters can expect to see us use our 11 years of leadership development and relationship building in the Commonwealth to protect our future as young Kentuckians through our new Just Transition campaign and by sharing out Sunrise Movement’s calls to action.