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.
It is doubtful whether the Republicans managed to turn the words “Green New Deal” into political poison. Polls show that the general idea is real quite Popular with Americans and more than 70 percent of Americans reject the term This strong climate policy will damage the economy. What seems most accurate is when a survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found last year that many Americans just don’t know enough about the Green New Deal to form an opinion one way or another.
In this regard, the press did not help. More than three out of four Americans in the post Office According to surveys, they had heard “little or nothing” about the Green New Deal. Several studies by the research organization Media Matters for America have found that Fox News mentions the Green New Deal frequently, typically mockingly. but nearly never on CNN, MSNBC and major networks.
Even if the Biden Plan is not exactly the Green New Deal, the latter should remain a political idea, and not only in the USA. Versions of a Green New Deal have now been endorsed by governments in Europe and Asia, and by various state and local governments in the United States. And some congressional candidates have put a Green New Deal at the center of their appeal to voters. ONE new campaign display Mike Siegel, a Texas Democrat in 10th Ward, has a gravel worker who says he and his union colleagues want Siegel to “bring our vision of a green New Deal to Congress.”
To make this easier, a Green New Deal aims to tackle the climate crisis by creating an abundance of green jobs and business opportunities through targeted government investments. In that sense, it resembles the original New Deal of the 1930s, which tackled massive unemployment in the US by creating jobs through government spending. Today’s Green New Deal is, as outlined in the congressional resolution jointly sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey in early 2019, an ambitious statement of goals rather than a compilation of precise policy proposals. It envisages broad mobilization of government resources that will create millions of jobs and related business opportunities to curb greenhouse gas emissions while building renewable energies and green infrastructure.
The differences between Biden’s plan and the Green New Deal are important and deserve reporters’ attention. Biden’s plan is worth remembering arose from negotiations between members of his campaign and progressives in the Bernie Sanders camp after Biden’s victory in the primaries. At the heart of the Biden plan is the promise to decarbonise the American electricity sector by 2035. Following the Sanders Approach, the Biden Plan also provides that 40 percent of federal climate spending will be in communities of black and poor, which historically have suffered the greatest damage from fossil fuel pollution. The Biden plan leaves out some of the Sanders camp’s other social justice goals – healthcare and housing, for example – but the focus on the economy remains central. “In terms of power generation, we can zero out by 2035 … and create millions of well-paid jobs,” Biden said during the debate.
In the meantime, the science is clear: Avoiding catastrophic temperature rises requires rapid and far-reaching decarbonization of the global economy. Emissions must be halved by 2030 to limit temperature rise to 1.5 ° C, scientists from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in their landmark report on global warming of 1.5 ° C in 2018 To achieve this goal, economies must change rapidly. “unprecedented“In human history, said the scientists.
This moment-probably America’s last To get the climate problem right, the press needs to explain its scientific and economic realities to its audience much better. Trump, in his own words and actions, has no plan for the climate. Biden has a plan that is informed of the Green New Deal, but is ultimately different from it. Rather than contributing to an environment in which the words “Green New Deal” are treated as a political commitment, good journalism should examine both candidates’ plans for their merits and inform the public accordingly. That also means finally telling the audience the truth about the Green New Deal.