Obviously not a new idea altogether, the ‘Green New Deal’ Proposal pushed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, newly elect Democrat congresswoman from New York, and her allies, differs from previous concepts. The core triangle of decarbonization, social equity and attention to frontline communities is promising and presents a clear agenda for transformative action. The proposal is backed by the new think tank or policy group “New Consensus”. To be watched!
Founded late in 2018, the new think tank is still building up. Key staff members are Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a former Rhodes scholar and policy director for Abdul El-Sayed’s 2018 gubernatiorial campaign (endorsed by Bernie Sanders and AOL among others), and Desmond Drummer, a former field organizer for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and founder of several innovative progressive community projects in Chicago. A “new consensus reading list” includes works by progressive economists like Ha-Joon Chang, Stephen S. Cohen and J. Bradford DeLong written to debunk neoliberal staples in economics, Mariana Mazzucato’s rediscovery of the innovative capacity of the public sector and historical works on the history of the New Deal and its destruction like Kim Phillips-Fein’s Invisible Hands.
For the Dig on Jacobin Radio, Rhiana Gunn-Wright boiled the five main goals – zero greenhouse emissions through fair and just transition, millions of good jobs and high economic security, investment in infrastructure and industry to meet challenges of 21st Century, clean water, air, sustainable environment, justice and equity with an eye to frontline and vulnerable communities – down to the three key goals: decarbonization, social equity and protection of frontline and vulnerable communities. Concept and program are driven by the desire to meet climate and social policy goals and moves quite some way beyond the just transition ideas of the past. Only a comprehensive program is likely to help building the policy and discourse coalitions needed to align progressive movements and politicians required to move such an agenda in the face of fierce opposition of carbon industries and status quo allies. When Daniel Denvir asked if and how the New Consensus group will confront oil companies and other big business allies, Rhiana Gunn-Wright admitted the lack of clear strategy in this regard. She pointed to work done by the Roosevelt Institute (founded in 1987) in the field of corporate power, as a source of inspiration and expertise. But she also left no doubt with regard to the need of confrontation: 100 percent decarbonization and the general commitment to social equity does not leave room for interpretation.