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“We Can’t Wait”: Sanders Says Green New Deal Needed Now More Than Ever

“Transforming our economy away from fossil fuels isn’t radical. What’s radical is waiting another second to do it.”

Hundreds of young climate activists rally in Lafayette Square on the north side of the White House to demand that President Joe Biden work to make the Green New Deal into law on June 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Five years on from the introduction of the Green New Deal, progressive lawmakers say that it’s needed now more than ever, with new, dangerous climate records being set each year and the grip of the fossil fuel industry showing little sign of waning.

Lawmakers who crafted and championed the original Green New Deal resolution have spoken up about its significance during its fifth anniversary this week, with original sponsors Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) putting out a report on the progress the U.S. has made toward the resolution’s original goals and, along with cosponsors like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), emphasizing the need to continue fighting for the proposal for years to come.

Meanwhile, new polling released by Data for Progress finds that the Green New Deal and related proposals remain widely popular, with 65 percent of voters saying they support a Green New Deal, including 85 percent of Democrats.

“Five years ago, we introduced a 10 year vision for social and ecological transformation big enough to save our planet: the Green New Deal,” said Ocasio-Cortez in a press conference celebrating the legislation on Tuesday. “It was laid out on three core principles to transform how the United States approached climate policy. The first was to dramatically accelerate the timeline for decarbonizing the US economy. The second was to say that we are going to create millions of jobs in this country to get it done. And the third principle was that we were going to leave no community behind in that transformation.”

“Transforming our economy away from fossil fuels isn’t radical. What’s radical is waiting another second to do it,” Sanders said on social media this week. “We introduced the Green New Deal 5 years ago today. Since then, we’ve seen the warmest day, month, and year on record. We can’t wait. We need a #GND now.”

Since the introduction of the Green New Deal, the concept has spread across the country, with multiple states and cities introducing their own Green New Deal resolutions. In addition to some climate legislation passing on the federal level, there has been a slate of related legislation, like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal for Public Housing, that would advance the economic and climate goals of the original package.

The years since the introduction of the Green New Deal have been transformational for the climate due to countries’ continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Every year since 2019 has been one of the top 10 hottest years on record, with 2023 shattering the global average temperature by a staggering 0.27 degrees Fahrenheit. Natural disasters are getting far worse, with recent research proposing that scientists create a new category to document hurricane strength, Category 6, in order to represent how hurricanes are intensifying. Millions have already died due to the climate crisis, while even the world’s annual climate talks have been captured by fossil fuel interests.

Voters are increasingly concerned about the climate crisis. According to Data for Progress polling, nearly 50 percent of voters say they view the climate crisis more seriously now than they have in the past five years, with 69 percent of Democrats, 44 percent of independents and 30 percent of Republicans saying as such. At the same time, 57 percent of voters — including 79 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents — say they would be more likely to vote for an incumbent member of Congress who cosponsored the Green New Deal if it were reintroduced this session.

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