Journalists Must Demystify the Green New Deal

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Now cover the climate This article is from “The Climate Beat”, the weekly newsletter of Now cover the climate, a global journalistic initiative that strengthens reporting on climate history.

IIn the first presidential debate in September, Donald Trump was anxious to attack his opponent’s $ 2 trillion plan to deal with the climate crisis. “He’s talking about a Green New Deal,” said the president, speaking of Joe Biden. In the vice-presidential debate, Mike Pence also attacked the Green New Deal, invoking the term eleven times as a threat that “would literally destroy American jobs.”

While Biden climate plan is in fact shaped by the Green New Deal principles – Biden calls it a “critical framework” – its goals and methods are narrower in scope. Biden and his run mate Kamala Harris have repeatedly stated that they do not support a Green New Deal.

However, efforts by Republicans to demonize Biden’s climate plan as a Green New Deal inadvertently show how superficially many mainstream news outlets have so far treated this fundamental proposal. With the exception of Fox News, which spent a lot of airtime trying to destroy the idea with wildly inaccurate claims, most news outlets have covered the Green New Deal solely in terms of horse racing and the uncritically internalized negative formulation of the idea by Republicans. For example, some post-debate comments focused on whether Trump and Pence’s attacks on a Green New Deal could cost Biden votes in the battlefield state of Pennsylvania. In the meantime, the public has been largely left in the dark on the fundamental questions of what a Green New Deal actually is and what it aims to achieve.

Regardless of which candidate wins the US presidential election, the Green New Deal is likely to remain at the center of climate policy debates. If Trump wins, the climate movement and other opponents of his policies will continue to push for a Green New Deal in Congress and states in the US. If Biden wins, the Green New Deal will be the yardstick by which progressives in his party judge the approach of the new president. It is time to get the media coverage of what a Green New Deal is and what is not, how the different versions of it would work in practice-including the closely related Biden Plan– –and most importantly, what it would mean for people’s daily lives.

In a word, journalists must demystify the green New Deal. The public and policymakers need a foundation of accurate intelligence and fact-based analysis before they can make intelligent decisions about whether to support this response to the climate problem, not to mention the ongoing economic contraction caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

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