Boston, Massachusetts – Last April 10, 2019, the Boston City Council announced its support for the Green New Deal, a proposed federal program, through a resolution calling for Washington lawmakers to fight the effects of climate change and to generate new jobs in the coming years.
According to Councilor Michelle Wu, the lead sponsor of the resolution, the federal government must wake up and the Boston City Council and its members should ensure that they are doing their part. She further said that, “The climate crisis is here now. We see it in Boston every single year.”
While the Boston City Council members are working as much as possible at the local level, they acknowledge that the “window is shrinking”.
The city resolution of support was adopted by majority vote, 9-3, and it comes in the midst of the national partisan-driven debate about the actions required in undertaking the proposals in the Green New Deal. This was a resolution adopted by Congress and the Senate, and introduced by Senator Edward Markey (Massachusetts) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), both Democrats.
Councilor Wu also emphasized the United Nations report issued in 2018 that indicated countries worldwide have about 12 years to implement policies in cutting emissions and, thus, in keeping the effects of global warming at a moderate level. The report further noted the absence of a “documented historic precedent” for the required actions countries have to take in order to slow down the effects of global warming.
The report was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an intergovernmental body of the United Nations created by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The IPCC’s primary responsibility is in providing humanity with a scientific and objective view of climate change and its natural, economic, and political effects. The body also provides guidance on response options for governments and citizens.
The IPCC report also warned that humanity must keep the increase in global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The body also emphasized that the world should take dramatic worldwide action within 12 years.
Councilor Wu also stressed the importance of support from the federal government in Washington, D.C. While the Boston City Council is constantly looking for effective solutions to climate change-related local issues, the federal support will be necessary eventually. The city council faces a wide range of challenges from the viability of food systems to the increase in carbon emissions.
She further said that the federal government needs to wake up, and she wants to ensure that the city council is doing its part by lending its members’ voices to the initiative and by getting ready.
But there is opposition to the resolution passed by majority of the city council. Councilors Frank Baker, Althea Garrison and Mark Ciommo were the dissenting votes in the resolution.
According to Councilor Garrison, who was the only councilor to speak up during the meeting, she only heard, “Stop the green. Cut the prescription drugs for elderly” on the radio.” She further asserted that the city council should mind its own business and instead take care of the city’s affairs.
Since the deal is in Washington and the city council can’t tell the federal government what it can and cannot do, the city council shouldn’t become involved in something that it cannot do anything about.
However, Councilor Lydia Edwards asserted that Boston City will be at the receiving end of the actions that will be or will not be made at the federal level. She added that if the city council isn’t pushing locally, then at the very least, the council and its councilors aren’t making themselves aware and hiding their heads in the sand.
The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposed federal stimulus program with two main goals: first, to address climate change and its effects; and second, to address economic inequality in the United States. The concept itself isn’t new since President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched a similar program during the Great Depression, known as the New Deal. The GND combines Roosevelt’s ideas on social and economic reforms and modern ideas about resource efficiency and renewable energy.
According to its advocates, the GND will transform the old economy into a new economy characterized by socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sound policies and practices. The issues related to climate change and climate crisis will be solved through a combination of 100% renewable energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The resolution also seeks to implement the “Economic Bill of Rights” where citizens have the right to single-payer healthcare, free college education, affordable housing, and a living wage guaranteed job.
The GND advocates also say that the proposed stimulus program is the country’s best hope for reversing the tide of the climate crisis and in addressing the economic inequality. They also say that the oil wars will become obsolete in case of the shift from coal and oil to renewable energy.