The last five years have been the warmest on record. We’re seeing an alarming regularity of extreme weather events, from wildfires across Washington State and in California, to a new normal of “once-in-a-lifetime” storms super-charged by global warming, to the recent polar vortex. With a climate change denier in the White House who has filled his cabinet with fossil fuel interests, we need immediate action to address the climate crisis.
The idea of a Green New Deal, which was formally introduced this week by democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a crucial step in the right direction. Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi struck down calls for a select committee on climate change to propose a Green New Deal, replacing it with a toothless committee. She even ridiculed the idea of it, referring to it as “the green dream, or whatever they call it.”
It will take building powerful movements to win a Green New Deal in Seattle and nationwide.
Here in Seattle, we need to lead on the environment and clean energy. We should create our own aggressive targets to make Seattle 100% renewable by 2030. Traffic gridlock in Seattle is the 9th worst of any city in the country —we need to develop a world-class, fully-electric mass transit system, free at point of use, to provide a viable alternative to reliance on car-based transit. This must be financed by taxing the rich, not with regressive tolls on city streets or in the new tunnel. We need a major green public works program which can create thousands of family wage union jobs for Seattle workers through a major expansion of clean energy, free energy conservation retrofitting in homes and apartments, and repair of broken and increasingly unsafe public infrastructure. Let’s fully electrify our working waterfront, for port worker safety and a sustainable environment.
Just last week, 45,000 students walked out of classes in Belgium to protest climate change, and students across the world, including in the U.S., are building for a major climate strike on March 15. We need elected officials who aren’t bought off by Big Oil, and who use their positions to stand with movements fighting the fossil fuel industry, like Kshama did during the successful struggles to block access of a Shell oil rig to the Seattle Port and to divest Seattle from Dakota Access Pipeline-investor Wells Fargo.
We need a new party for working people that will fight to stop climate change. We need to take the big energy corporations into democratic public ownership and re-tool them for clean energy and mass transit. The fossil-fuel reliant capitalist system has failed to address the urgent climate crisis – we need a democratic socialist green economy that bases itself on the needs of people and the planet.