With a sense of urgency inspired by the 12-year deadline set out in the landmark report published last December by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a movement has begun to coalesce around the need to overhaul our energy, transportation, construction, and city planning radically to reach carbon-neutrality and, eventually true sustainability. Introduced by freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and sixth-year Senator Ed Markey the New Green Deal resolution presented for the United States has drawn a strongly divisive reaction. With the right rising up to reject the plan outright as a ludicrous pipe dream and many of those to the ideological left adding their support, the plan calls for true discussion and analysis.

The plan offers a broad list of goals intended to achieve the necessary transition which are built strongly on the need for public funding to achieve these goals. These goals include supplying 100% of the energy demand through zero-emission, renewable sources; digitizing the power grid; upgrading all existing buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency; eliminating all pollution in and emissions in transport, with a particular focus on infrastructure, public transit, and high-speed rail; as well as solutions such as planting green spaces to absorb carbon emissions and the reduction of agricultural emissions. The plan also includes measures aimed at a social impact which are intended to overhaul the society, but our focus here is on the climate efforts.

While the plan does not set a specific timeline for these changes, many supporters have suggested a ten-year goal for this change to have the greatest impact and avoid major crises. While most will agree that some measures are necessary to avoid utter catastrophe, the divides in what and how much people are willing to sacrifice are quite marked. Notably, the conservative wing of the US have objected to the vast spending called for by the proposed measures and the strong toll its restrictive limitations on the use of fossil fuels will place on businesses. Liberals, meanwhile, have also voiced skepticism regarding the scope of these ambitions, noting that the investment required to achieve these goals would reach the trillions and the social and political consequences may be stark as people are forced into action.

A recent survey of leading energy and economics experts by the New York Times sought to understand the feasibility of this plan and its potential impact. The conclusions were encouraging, if somewhat more measured, as the experts generally agreed that the plan is indeed possible, yet noted that the timeline is far too short, with more realistic ambitions set for 2040-2050. Regarding the cost of these measures, however, the experts noted that the cost of ignoring the changes apparent in the climate today will grow to far surpass the cost of these changes if they were to be implemented beginning today.

Read this CNN article on the particulars of the plan 

Read the New York Times article for detailed assessment of the deal 

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

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