Nearly a decade ago, the Occupy Movement elevated awareness of economic inequality with public actions and effective slogans (“We are the 99%!”). Some of that energy found its way into Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign focused on economic inequality.
The Green New Deal has now provided a new public narrative linking climate action, job creation, and social justice – a comprehensive vision for reordering social and economic priorities that has provoked an array of passionate responses. It has also helped open up new political space for national candidates to focus on climate change.
While Connecticut’s Green New Deal bill fizzled into a much-needed fix for solar policy, New York just passed landmark legislation that establishes the most aggressive clean energy and emissions reduction targets in the nation. As in CT, however, the NY bill lost its “Green New Deal” label, dropping stronger labor and environmental justice provisions.
This week’s Roundtable Gathering included dialogue about proposals for highway tolling and a regional Transportation Climate Initiative. Both would provide new funding streams, creating good construction jobs and opportunities to invest in clean transportation. But they also raise serious concerns about equity and how to ensure that investments benefit the communities that have suffered the most from transportation-related pollution.
Building campaigns that link climate action, job creation and justice is challenging – and essential.