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Kamala Harris Becomes Latest 2020 Dem to Support a Green New Deal

Politics
Sen. Kamala Harris held a news conference after announcing her bid for president on Jan. 21. PBS NewsHour / YouTube screenshot

Kamala Harris on Monday became the latest Democratic presidential contender to back a Green New Deal, in what has become a "litmus test" for 2020 hopefuls, according to the youth-led Sunrise Movement that helped launch the ambitious economic and climate proposal.

"I support a Green New Deal and I will tell you why," the California Senator said during a CNN town hall in Iowa. "Climate change is an existential threat and we have got to deal with the reality of it."


Harris also took aim at the climate skeptics in office.

"We have got to deal with the reality of the fact that there are people trying to peddle some ideas that we should deny it. They are peddling science fiction instead of what we should do, which is rely on science fact," she said at the town hall.

The Green New Deal—made popular by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—aims to create a select committee of House members that would have the authority to "develop a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan" to allow the United States to become carbon neutral and to "promote economic and environmental justice and equality."

The increasingly popular plan has been backed by at least 45 members of Congress and hundreds of environmental, social justice and political groups.

As for the names vying for the 2020 presidential ticket, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as well as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have also backed the Green New Deal, according to The Hill.

"It's becoming the new litmus test for every Presidential candidate: if you want to lead our nation and claim to represent young people, come out in FULL support of the Green New Deal," the Sunrise Movement tweeted after Gillibrand announced her support at a recent event in San Francisco.

"If mobilizing to confront the climate crisis is not one of your top 3 issues, it's going to be hard for our generation to take you seriously," the group also tweeted to the presidential contenders. "Embrace it, or thank u, next."

Sen. Warren, who appeared on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on Monday, explained how her newly proposed wealth tax plan can help fund Green New Deal policies.

"How about we invest that in a Green New Deal, to help protect this planet?" she said.

Also during the CNN town hall, Harris mentioned that the top two fastest-growing occupations on the Bureau of Labor Statistics list are installers for solar panels and wind turbine service technicians.

"We need those jobs to be created and filled because we need to be dedicated to that kind of work, and that's what a Green New Deal has to include," she said.

She then lamented, "Our planet is at great risk ... we have policymakers who are in the pockets of big oil and big coal (and) don't fully appreciate the fact that we are looking at something that is presenting an existential threat to our country.

"And, listen, all children need to be able to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and we've got to have a commitment to a policy that will allow that to happen for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren. And right now we don't," she concluded.

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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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