Conservatives are often scorned over the issue of climate change, constantly being labeled “science-deniers” responsible for the imminent destruction of the planet. This simply isn’t true, as there is support on the right for sensible ways to fight climate change, especially among young conservatives. However, it is becoming increasingly clear there is no place for free market, small government conservatives in the progressive environmentalist movement.
Nowhere is this seen more clearly than the recently proposed Green New Deal, pushed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and supported by a growing number of 2020 Democratic hopefuls.
Virtually no one seriously doubts the reality of climate change. However, good intentions should never be a substitute for good policy.
Since the Green New Deal was rolled out, there has been some dispute over an FAQ document put out by Ocasio-Cortez’s office. This document has since been taken down, and it’s not actual legislation. As such, it is technically true that nothing in the actual Green New Deal calls for economic security for those unwilling to work. But that isn’t to say the FAQ should be discarded as irrelevant.
The FAQ in question expounds of what is in the Green New Deal, what the end goals are, and what is left out. For example, the actual legislation calls for investment in “high-speed rail.” To find out what the endgame is, you need to look to the FAQ, which states they will build out high-speed railways to the point where “air travel stops becoming necessary.”
There is no provision in the actual Green New Deal about carbon taxes, though the idea is popular among centrists. The reasoning behind the exclusion is found in the FAQ, which states that, for the time being, carbon taxes are “off the table.”
Because the FAQ reveals the sentiments and motivations behind the Green New Deal, it is still fair game when evaluating the plan on the whole.
There’s a genuine question over whether this proposal is more focused on the Green, or the New Deal. If the goal of this plan is to fight climate change because it poses an existential threat that requires immediate action, then I’m curious why it includes guarantees to high-paying jobs and high quality healthcare for all Americans. I’m not sure what these policies have to do with climate change.
In terms of environmental policy, the Green New Deal’s major goal is to have America running entirely on renewable energy by 2030, even though renewables constitute just 11 percent of American energy right now, and is projected to be only about a third of American energy by 2050. The idea we can increase that number to 100 percent in the next decade is inane, and even Democrats who have backgrounds in clean energy are pointing that out.
The proposal then quickly shifts from the impossible to the comically absurd. The Green New Deal proposes to upgrade all existing buildings in the country for “maximum energy efficiency.” It aims to “overhaul transportation systems to remove pollution as much as technology feasible,” which the FAQ expounds to replacing “every single combustion engine vehicle”. The legislation involves “working with ranchers to remove greenhouse gasses as much as technologically feasible”, corresponding to my personal favorite quote from the FAQ, the admission that they are not sure whether “we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows” by 2030.
How would America pay for the Green New Deal? The answer provided by Ocasio-Cortez is that we wouldn’t have to. To produce the massive amount of money required for this Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez and her allies are relying on two ideas. Their first claim is that the investment from the Green New Deal will produce enough economic growth to pay for itself, which sounds eerily similar to the Republican line on tax cuts that Democrats were so critical of. The second mechanism is modern monetary theory (MMT), a macroeconomic idea arguing that because the government controls its own currency, it can never really run out of it in the same way a retailer can’t run out of gift cards. That’s obviously an over-simplification, but MMT essentially provides the justification for unlimited spending. However, it remains a simple fact that you can’t inflate your way to prosperity.
What about the more moderate ideas about fighting climate change? These are scorned by the Green New Deal and its advocates. Carbon taxes are, for the time being, “off the table.” The same goes for cap and trade. The Green New Deal also plans to eliminate nuclear power, even though nuclear is the world’s largest source of clean energy.
It’s hard to claim that your environmentalism isn’t a mask for socialism when your solution is this narrow and unfeasible. The socialist dogma indeed lives loudly in the Green New Deal.
Conservatives may feel inclined to write off this plan as an unrealistic fantasy that deserves only to be laughed at and ignored, but this would be a mistake. The Green New Deal is where the environmentalist left is moving. Pretending it isn’t worth our time won’t change that. There’s a movement behind the Green New Deal, as evidenced by the 2020 contenders rallying around it, and that movement must be confronted.
The fact of the matter is conservatives need a message on climate change. Simply looking at the Green New Deal and pointing out its ineffectiveness, absurdities, or price tag does nothing to stop climate change or mitigate its effects. The longer the right goes without a clear answer as to how they plan to combat climate change, the more likely it is for a radical bill like the Green New Deal to be seriously considered or even passed.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.