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Thoughts on the New Green Deal: GND + GOP?

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey formally unveiled the Green New Deal at a press conference on Feb. 7, 2019.Anyone who knows what I do for a living will understand my interest in supporting policy aimed, at least in part, at reducing carbon emissions. 

But those who know that I’m married to a fiscal conservative will also understand that I don’t see Republicans as the enemy. And that’s an area where I think the Green New Deal has the potential to succeed or fail. 

A recent NPR article on the deal talks about paying special attention to groups like the poor, disabled and minority communities that might be disproportionately affected. It goes on to say that Republicans likely won’t support these “liberal economic ideas.” 

But since when do liberals have a corner on concern about disproportionately affected people? Republicans have worked hard to support farmers and more recently coal miners who are often disproportionally affected by policies. These same stakeholders will be affected by any Green New Deal. If the discussion were opened up to include groups of interest to Republicans, they could be invited into the conversation and might surprise people in their response. 

What if we could get both sides of the aisle away from the lobbyists to talk about how stakeholders are really affected? I think all our elected officials could concur on the value of a policy that might reduce Dow Chemical’s profits by 0.001% while preventing a degradation of 30-40% in an affected population. (I’m using Dow as an example here since I know that they take the impact on stakeholder groups like these into account in their own decision making.) 

And if we provide incentives for people and businesses to purchase alternative energy production, doesn’t it make sense to tie those incentives to jobs in coal country, provided by those who benefit from the policies, such as solar panel and battery manufacturers? 

As I said, my husband is a fiscal conservative and a frugal New Englander. The two of us see eye to eye on the need to conserve energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuel, although for very different reasons. When we talk about these things, we acknowledge each other’s drivers, usually without being dismissive of either perspective. 

For those of us who believe that we must act now and act boldly, it makes sense to actively invite a Republican point of view. We need to address their disproportionately affected stakeholders and accommodate their need for fiscal conservancy. We need to use our political savvy to embrace, rather than alienate those who think differently. If we don’t, the New Green Deal, and all the other deals that might reduce our risk of catastrophe, will fail. 
PHOTO CAPTION: US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey formally unveiled the Green New Deal at a press conference on Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Senate Democrats, Used Under Creative Commons 

About the Author:  Lise Laurin, CEO and Founder of EarthShift Global

Lise Laurin CEO and Founder of EarthShift Global LLC as well as EarthShift.Lise Laurin, a pioneer in Sustainable Return on Investment (S-ROI) and Life Cycle Assessment, founded EarthShift in 2000, adopting these methodologies to support North American industries’ early efforts at sustainability. She continues to develop and leverage EarthShift Global’s training, simplified LCA tools and S-ROI tools to build organizational capacity and drive large-scale change. Lise received the 2017 Rita Schenck Lifetime Individual LCA Leadership Award from the ACLCA, and is currently the driving force behind the LCA Roadmap, working with the SETAC North America Life Cycle Assessment Advisory Group. She was a member of the UNEP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative team working on Organizational LCA (O-LCA) and advocates for a balanced, holistic approach to LCA within the International Standards Organization (ISO) Technical Advisory Groups for LCA and Ecolabeling. 

Email Lise if you’re interested in a sustainability speaker for your next event.