When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, both Democrats, introduced their Green New Deal resolution earlier this year, it quickly sank in the Senate, largely due to Republican opposition. But its ideas are certain to remain in the spotlight, given the increasing visibility of climate change, Ocasio-Cortez’s continued promotion of the package, and the number of Democratic 2020 contenders who have thrown their support behind some of its proposals.
No country on Earth has tried to implement all the Green New Deal ideas at once, but many of the social elements of the deal are so common in Europe they’re almost taken for granted, such as universal healthcare. And two of its energy-related proposals have started to become reality there, too. Europe has, in essence, tested the viability of transitioning to renewable energy and making houses more energy efficient. And the results of those experiments are worth inspecting, particularly when it comes to timing and the question of jobs.
For instance, the Green New Deal proposes for the US to entirely switch to clean energy by 2030. In 2010, Germany created a law that said renewable energy must account for 60 percent of supply by 2050, a much less ambitious target than the US. Still, since then, wind, hydro and solar power’s share of total generation has gone up from 17% to 40%, which is ahead of schedule; the target was to achieve a renewables share of at least 35% by next year. This shows us what can happen when we set big, ambitious targets.
European countries are home to a bunch of useful models when it comes to the proposals set forth by the Green New Deal. Perhaps it’s time we start learning from them so we can spare the plant and solve inequality in America.