Ideas are like plants, they need the right soil to take roots.
Sometimes very good ideas remain unheard for a very long time, and then, all the sudden, they are the day hottest topic.
This could be because when formulated they lacked the appropriate soil and nutriment to grow tall and strong, like plants, and were unable to face the harshness of the world and the many obstacles ahead.
But, like plants, variations in external conditions and some adjustments in the arrangements of the trunk and the branches, can make all the difference.
This happens to plants and ideas alike, and this is what happened to the Green New Deal.
The idea is far from being new, as it was first launched by the European Greens about a decade ago. Financing the transition towards a greener energy system via public investments to create jobs and inject liquidity into the economy stressed by the financial crisis.
Despite initial excitement, and the endorsement of important partners (as the UN Environment Program, that picked up the project and published the Global Green New Deal report in 2009), the Green New Deal did not get much attention.
Today, years later, the Green New Deal is the talk of the town and seems to be living real momentum, this time in the U.S.
The Green New Deal in the U.S.
The concept itself of a New Deal certainly has more appeal in the U.S. – where it originally comes from, in this formula at least – than in Europe, where it does not bring any specific collective memory.
Also, the mediatic hype around newly elected U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, vocally supporting the Green New Deal, has certainly contributed to its fortune.
However, what has changed the most has been the public opinion over environmental issues, and the widespread feeling of urgency to fight climate change.
Increasing extreme weather events and studies on the consequences of climate change on the planet and its living species – like the latest IPCC report – stress the importance to act against climate change rapidly.
Today environmental conscience is stronger than ever; politicians, artists, scholars and the general public opinion are all endorsing the battle against climate change, and the Green New Deal found the fertile breeding ground it needed.
Green New Deal 2.0
In February, a non-binding Congressional resolution was the first step of what is likely to be a lengthy and intense legislative and political process around the Green New Deal.
The final version did not contain some of the most controversial aspects, that easily attracted the most criticism.
The complete phase-out of fossil sources and the target of 100% renewable energy-based economy has been deleted.
The guaranteed jobs resulting from public investment – another much-disputed element – has been left out of the final version as well.
Even though the creation of jobs via public investment has always been an essential part of the Green New Deal, committing to numbers or specific targets would be suicidal.
Protests against climate change have been rising in several countries – from Europe to the U.S. to Australia – involving environmentalist movements, green parties, as well as teenagers, schoolchildren and teachers.
The world is changing, environmental concerns are on the rise, and Ocasio-Cortez populist charisma is certainly supporting the cause of the Green New Deal.
However, the Trump administration policies are blatantly in favor of the national fossil fuel industry, and with shale oil and gas production ramping up, Green New Deal supporters will have to do much more than sit-ins to advance anti climate-change legislation.