While serving in the state senate, I saw my district get hit hard by storms and floods that took lives. It’s also one of the most economically distressed districts in the state, with high unemployment rates and generational poverty. There is an economic crisis in this country and there is a climate crisis in this world and with the Green New Deal we can take on both of them. By investing in a sustainable future we can further build on our place as second in the country in solar energy capacity and we can energize our coastal economy with offshore wind farms! We will combat climate change by creating millions of new jobs and building the energy system of the future.
In my first months in the state senate a group of unions came to me and asked me to support a pipeline that had already been approved by the NCGA and was widely supported by Democrats in the state senate. They told me it would be safe and they told me that people in the affected communities needed the jobs. Shortly thereafter, the environmental groups reached out to me and shared with me the risks and the permanent damage this pipeline would cause to the communities it was promising to help through employment. The jobs weren’t permanent, the damage would be. I was one of the only members of the senate to firmly and strongly oppose the pipeline.
These unions didn’t want to exacerbate the climate crisis. They didn’t want to sell out the health and safety of our communities but they were being driven by a dire need to provide opportunity for workers. The problem is that these are often low paying, dangerous and impermanent jobs. It wouldn’t actually be the working people in these communities benefiting, it would be oil executives and their stock shareholders.
The climate crisis has manifested itself most violently in the communities that have benefited the least.
Since then, we’ve moved past rhetoric that put jobs on one side and the climate on the other. These are not mutually exclusive, they’re intertwined.
Solving the climate crisis will create millions of good paying jobs that will not just create the energy system of the future, but empower communities that have been left behind.
Let’s be clear. Clean coal is a myth and natural gas is too. We cannot continue to be distracted by or engage in industry constructed myths meant to delay the advancement of and investment in renewable energy – the only real solution.
Carbon dioxide levels are higher than they’ve been at anypoint in the last 3.6 million years. We are mere years away from the point of no return for life as we know it. This is an existential threat, it is a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before and to address it, we will need mobilization of the likes of which we have never seen before. We can and we must comprehensively reshape our economy to protect our communities and create a sustainable path forward. The risk is in doing too little, not in doing too much. We urgently need a Green New Deal.
The challenge is daunting but I believe that we’re up to it. Led by American workers, we can lead the world in clean energy and in economic growth.