Bipartisan support for clean power is growing within the American public. Clean power also crosses party lines across the nation’s business community. The hard part is getting bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for a strong federal clean power policy. Now the first real test of Congressional support is finally here, in the form of the Green New Deal.
Earlier this month in Congress, two Democrats in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives introduced the Green New Deal in the form of H. R. 109. It already faces a vote in the Republican-held Senate, and the outcome could have a significant impact on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement.
In many ways, the Green New Deal echoes the ongoing concerns of the corporate social responsibility movement. The language is of H.R. 109 is strong, yet the fundamental issues are familiar territory.
Here is a passage laying out the duties of the Green New Deal in the area of social justice:
“…to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as ‘frontline and vulnerable communities’).”
The Green New Deal is also consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The SDGs enable nations to track their progress in 17 areas. Global corporations are also beginning to recognize that SDGs can yield bottom line benefits as well.
For example, SDG #7 covers “Clean and Affordable Energy.” Similarly, the Green New Deal calls on the federal government to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.”
In particular, climate change is front and center in the Green New Deal, as it is for many businesses.
Just as corporate leaders are recognizing the disruptive power of climate change, the Green New Deal approaches global warming as an over-arching threat that exacerbates existing social problems, such as economic inequality and environmental justice among others.
Through the lens of the Green New Deal, climate change is also an opportunity to tackle these same issues with a sharp focus on job creation.
Anyone familiar with Schoolhouse Rock’s famous “I’m Just a Bill” sequence can predict what will happen to the Green New Deal.
The resolution has already passed into various committees in the House of Representatives, setting the stage for a long series of hearings, debates, and commentary from the public, as is normally the case for legislation of broad national concern.
That provides the business community with ample time to weigh in.
If and when H.R. 109 (or something like it) gets to the floor for a full vote in the House, it could look very different from the resolution under consideration now.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already jumped ahead and fast-tracked the Green New Deal proposal in the Senate. The full Senate will hold a full vote on the resolution in the near future.
That means the Senate vote will take place with little or no input from the business community or anyone else, for that matter.
So, why rush to hold a vote? Without digging too deeply into the weeds, the vote in the Senate is apparently meant to cause some politically awkward moments for Democrats. The common wisdom is that the vote will widen the rift between moderate and progressive Democrats.
Meanwhile, the common wisdom is that Senate Republicans can safely vote the proposal down.
That would be a short-term victory for McConnell and the Republicans, however. A poll recently conducted by Business Insider found that well over 80 percent of Americans are behind most of the policy proposals that comprise the Green New Deal. And two-thirds of those who participated in the survey said they are behind everyone one of the seven components of this plan.
With more corporations behind some aspects of the Green New Deal’s agenda, we are finding that the private sector could be ahead of government yet again.
Tomorrow: Tina Casey discusses why the Green New Deal, despite loud and vocal criticism, more of the U.S. business community will find themselves aligned more with this plan than with McConnell’s GOP.
Image credit: Senate Democrats/Flickr
Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.