My Abridged Green New Deal

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There has been some confusion about exactly what I meant in my climate change post on Tuesday. Since I’m in no shape to write anything lengthy, this is a perfect opportunity to boil it down to a sentence or two. Here it is:

If you’re serious about climate change—really serious—then your plan cannot demand very much sacrifice from people. Maybe none, in fact.

That’s it. You will never get widespread support for any plan that requires people to give up the stuff they like. I know that it’s much harder to think of a plan with negligible sacrifice that nevertheless makes a serious dent in climate change—the laundry list of all the usual suspects is much easier—but that’s too bad. The laundry list will never get public support, so if that’s your answer you aren’t really taking the problem seriously.

Keep in mind that the “problem” we’re trying to address is not climate change and never has been. The problem is how to get public support to do something about climate change. That’s what you need to pour all your energy into. And just to give you something to throw brickbats at, here’s my four-step plan:

  • Lots and lots of subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency, electrification, etc.
  • Huge sums of money for R&D into renewable energy and carbon sequestration.
  • A strong focus on job creation.
  • A whopping big carbon tax that mostly hits the affluent, with plenty of deficit spending to make up the rest

This is, obviously, not feasible right now. But nothing is feasible for the next couple of years. What we need right now is some serious thinking about what to do if and when liberals gain the political power to do anything, and that thinking needs to unapologetically focus on how to demand the smallest possible sacrifice from the largest number of people.


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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