Cities and states are modeling what a Green New Deal could look like – ThinkProgress
by E.A. Crunden
Smaller-scale efforts show local governments are prepared to act on climate change.
Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have spent the past two months engaged in a war of words over the Green New Deal resolution. Many argue its ambitious goals aren’t feasible within the short timeframe it lays out.
Others say there’s simply no alternative.
While they’ve been sparring, however, cities and states across the country have been moving forward with their own ambitious plans, showing how elements of the radical proposal could take shape at a local level.
“I think at the state and local level, we’ve got the capacity to do it,” Alan Webber, mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico, told ThinkProgress.
Webber’s city has been moving swiftly on climate action over the past few years. Part of that is necessity: New Mexico already suffers from water shortages, something the 2018 National Climate Assessment (NCA) warns will only grow worse in the Southwestas climate change intensifies droughts. With no time to waste, Santa Fe is jumping in head first.
We are on land that belongs to the Pueblo,” Webber said, noting that indigenous communities in the area have paved the way for the “sustainable life” Santa Fe is now pursuing.
Last November, Santa Fe adopted a sustainability plan putting the city on the road to carbon neutrality by 2040.
That’s 10 years later than the Green New Deal proposes, but it’s still a rapid timeline. And it’s one that includes a host of factors — moving to renewable energy, upgrading buildings and street lighting, water conservation, and local food production, in addition to more run-of-the-mill actions like recycling.
“It’s a comprehensive approach to having a sustainability roadmap,” said Webber.
What is unfolding in Santa Fe is an accelerated version of the conversation taking place on the national level. Once a topic pushed to the side by Republicans and Democrats alike, climate change has been catapulted to the top of the political agenda in recent months.
After two years of deadly wildfires and hurricanes across the country, polling shows that most Americans accept the science behind climate change and that many feel it is already impacting their lives directly.
And they are demanding action.
Congressional newcomers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), joined by activist groups like the youth-led Sunrise Movement, have led the charge.
In February, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Green New Deal resolution, a blueprint for overhauling the entire U.S. economy and transitioning to emissions-neutral energy sources within a decade.