The history of the Green New Deal

The EU has released its European Green Deal — which was inspired by a similar proposal from progressive politicians in the U.S. Here’s how the initiative began and soon caught on.

The origins of the proposed U.S. legislation that aims to address climate change and economic inequality

The story began in the 2000s. Some say it all began on a cold Friday in January 2007, when three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman used the term “Green New Deal” in a New York Times column, referencing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal”. In his piece, the pro-globalization columnist wrote about revitalizing the U.S. ending the addiction to oil and called for a drastic renewable turnaround. One year later, Barack Obama added a Green New Deal to his platform.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a report by economic and environmental group the Green New Deal Group was published in the UK. It proposed ways to tackle global warming, the ongoing financial crisis and peak oil. In 2009, the concept was put on wider footing. The UN drafted a report calling for a Global Green New Deal aimed at creating jobs in renewable industries to boost the economy and to curb climate change after the crisis.

9 years later, the term made a comeback. A youth activist group called Sunrise Movement re-popularized the name and held a sit-in in Nancy Pelosi’s office. On February 7th, 2019, a Green New Deal was introduced in Congress by Democrats Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey. It calls on the U.S. government to move away from fossil fuels, decrease emissions and aims to assure new jobs in clean energy industries. It’s combined with economic and social reform, like increasing tax on the super-rich and investing in infrastructure and renewable energy.

The goal is for the U.S. to be 100% renewable within a 10-year period. 9 months later, the European Commission announced its own Green Deal. The plan would require EU countries to transform their economy, find new jobs for millions of people, cut emissions by at least 50%, and commit to net-neutral emissions by 2050. It would cost the EU a trillion euros by 2030.