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Ahead of Biden's climate summit, lawmakers relaunch 'Green New Deal'

by Reuters
Tuesday, 20 April 2021 16:57 GMT

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks as she and fellow Democraic lawmakers relaunch their "Green New Deal" resolution on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Democratic leaders including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez re-pitched the plan to transform the U.S. economy to a green future

By Makini Brice

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. lawmakers, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, on Tuesday reintroduced their "Green New Deal" resolution, their set of aggressive climate goals intended to transform the U.S. economy.

Initially introduced in 2019, the non-binding resolution seeks to eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade and transition the economy away from fossil fuels.

"For so long, our movement toward a sustainable future has been divided with really just this false notion that we have to choose between our planet and our economy. And we decided to come together in sweeping legislation that not only rejects that notion, but creates a plan for 20 million union jobs in the United States of America" in several sectors, Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference.

It was not immediately clear whether the plan would receive a significantly warmer reception from President Joe Biden's administration than it did from the administration of former President Donald Trump, which did not believe action on climate change was necessary.

Biden, who is hosting an online climate summit this week and announced in January that the United States would rejoin the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change, has promised to put the country on track to net-zero emissions by 2050 - a much later deadline than the Green New Deal's.

Asked if the lawmakers wanted to go beyond what Biden has proposed, Markey said: "Yes. We believe that this is the moment that requires us to act big, think big, have a program that matches the magnitude of the problem that we're confronted with."

Markey and Ocasio-Cortez highlighted successes achieved since the release of the resolution, including General Motors' announcement that it would sell all of its new cars, SUVs and light pick-up trucks with zero tailpipe emissions by 2035 and the House of Representatives' vote to allow the construction of more public housing.

The plan has received backing from 103 House lawmakers, Ocasio-Cortez said, including first-term congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri, a vocal supporter.

Republicans and Trump slammed the Green New Deal when it was first introduced, claiming adopting its goals would force Americans to cease traveling and not be able to eat meat.

"The green new disaster is back," Republican Senator John Barrasso said in a statement on Monday, ahead of the relaunch. "Free market innovation is the best way to protect our air, water and communities – not heavy-handed government regulation or taxation."

The plan calls for 100 percent of power demand to be met from zero-emission energy sources like wind and solar, modernizing transportation infrastructure, cutting carbon emissions from the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, making buildings and homes more energy efficient and increasing land preservation.

It also aims to create an economic safety net for communities affected by climate change and the shift away from fossil fuel use, including through guarantees of healthcare, jobs and job training.

The plan's name references President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s, which sought to help Americans ailing from the Great Depression with huge government-led infrastructure projects.

Separately, Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, on Monday introduced their Green New Deal for Public Housing Act.

The bill would modernize the country's 950,000 housing units to make buildings more energy efficient. It would also require jobs created under the initiative to meet certain labor standards and allow for the creation of more public housing units.

It was not immediately clear how likely the bill is to pass in either congressional chamber.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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