2020 will be the year of climate solutions, not a socialist revolution

2020 will be the year of climate solutions, not a socialist revolution
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Recently, the organization behind the Green New Deal, the Sunrise Movement, announced its endorsement of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNew campaign ad goes after Sanders by mentioning heart attack Biden on whether Sanders can unify party as nominee: 'It depends' Steyer rebukes Biden for arguing with supporter he thought was Sanders voter MORE (I-Vt.) in the 2020 presidential race. Like Sanders, the Green New Deal has captured the imaginations of millions of young people and promises a radically new approach.

Still, it should be left in 2019 if Americans want real action to climate change. 2020 will be the year of climate solutions, not socialist revolution.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis. 

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This will require reducing global carbon emissions to net-zero by the year 2050. The IPCC report suggests that this will demand full transitions in worldwide energy and transportation infrastructure, sustainable economic development, and extensive adaptation and mitigation efforts. 

The Green New Deal speaks to the issues my generation cares about. It discusses systemic racism, economic inequality, and barriers to education and meaningful work. It highlights the importance of climate justice and points to the role the United States has played in bringing the world to the brink of climate disaster. Yet, at the same time, it fails to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions today.

While it is the urgency of the climate crisis that drew so many to the plan, the Green New Deal gives false hope to young people and provides campaigning politicians, like Sanders, a rhetorical crutch. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. 

There is a better path forward. Even though the United States produces around only 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, there are policies we can adopt today to cut this number and help the rest of the world do the same. Right now, there are a dozen bipartisan bills in Congress that would reduce emissions. 

They include a bill to increase R&D investment in advanced battery storage, which is critical to scaling renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Another would promote research into advanced nuclear energy technology — the United States’ current nuclear fleet already generates around 70 percent of our clean energy. 

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The Resilient Federal Forests Act would reduce wildfires, which contribute to climate change and endanger countless lives through active forest risk management. Bills like these don’t generate flashy headlines, but for lawmakers who are serious about fighting climate change, they offer something better: real action. 

Last December, the United Nations’ COP25 conference in Madrid produced little in the way of progress. Holding out for consensus and placing faith in shared goals and unenforceable targets is not a climate plan.

The Green New Deal represents the same old approach. The road to the climate crisis is paved with bold promises and good intentions. 

Coastal communities in Florida are watching sea-levels rise. Last spring, farmers in Nebraska and Iowa witnessed first-hand the terror of increasingly powerful extreme-weather events as they experienced unprecedented flooding. 

As politicians like Bernie Sanders toy with banning nuclear energy and brag about suing energy companies and our president continues to traffic in climate change denial, young people look on with horror. The Green New Deal offers a vision, but it does not provide solutions.

Fighting climate change will require using all sources of clean and low-emission energy, whether they fit an aesthetic vision of environmentalism or not. The government must work with the private sector to create and deploy emissions-cutting technology around the world. Most importantly, our leaders must speak the language of science. Not hyperbole. Not denial. 

The Green New Deal is the 1930s “solution” to a 21st-century problem. Bernie’s economic theories have already been tried in Cuba and Venezuela. As we enter a new decade, we can’t afford to be looking backward. 

Young activists are making climate change one of the top issues in the 2020 election. They deserve better than Bernie Sanders and the Green New Deal. As young Americans go to the polls this fall, we will vote for candidates who recognize the gravity of the climate crisis and are taking real steps to address it. The climate is changing, and we can’t wait. 

Quill Robinson is the legislative director at American Conservation Coalition.