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climate movement, but have also earned support for it from a host of other movements, institutions, networks, scientists, and scholars.

Yet I believe the Green New Deal vision, ambitious as it is, must go even further and deeper. As the plan is formulated and carried out in coming months and years, it must be accompanied by effective mechanisms to (1) directly eliminate fossil fuels from the economy on an accelerated schedule and (2) reverse the widespread ecological damage that has been done in the pursuit of economic growth—damage that reaches well beyond greenhouse warming.

Fossil fuels cannot be suppressed solely through the expansion of non-fossil energy or through market interventions such as carbon pricing; eradicating emissions will require a statutory limit on all fuel extraction, one that lowers quickly year by year, along

The Green New Deal has eclipsed previously popular half- and quarter-measures that would have only nibbled around the edges of the climate crisis.

with a system to guarantee material sufficiency for all people and excess for none.

Even if we manage to free ourselves from fossil fuels, the reversal of broader ecological damage will not be achieved solely by the reduction or elimination of greenhouse emissions; it will require a transformed economy that operates on less, not more, energy and does not depend on over-exploitation of the Earth’s ecosystems. Neither fossil-fuel elimination nor ecological restoration is compatible with continued economic growth.

Deep social change cannot be achieved by a single piece of legislation, no matter how profound. An obvious example is the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It became essential because the Thirteenth and Four- teenth Amendments a century earlier had failed to end racial oppression. But the Civil Rights Act itself needed some backup. To be effective, it had to be followed up by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and other major legisla- tion—and that struggle is still not over.

Passage of a Green New Deal, like that of the Civil Rights Act, is widely viewed as a vital step toward righting a wrong that threatens the nation. Nevertheless, one act of Congress cannot successfully tackle a multifaceted threat such as the emerging climate emergency. Like the Civil Rights Act, a Green New

Deal Act can be the beginning of a transformation, but it can’t be the end; it must be accompanied by other essential legislation.

The Green New Dealers have not yet specified a mechanism by which the United States can guarantee the elimination of greenhouse emissions by a hard-and-fast deadline. The absence of a direct, airtight mechanism to achieve the necessarily rapid decline and elimination of fossil fuels is not unique to the Green New Deal. None of the climate proposals debated so far, either in Washington, D.C., or at international climate talks, have included such a component.

But the intensifying symptoms of our climate predicament now require an immediate switch from the current steady rise in fossil fuel use to a much steeper decline—something like doing a U-turn at eighty miles an hour in a tanker truck. There’s no time left for legislating corporate-friendly policies and waiting to see if they work. If, in 2030 or 2040, such policies turn out to have been insufficient, it will be too late for a do-over.

The most widely discussed emissions-reduction strategies depend on three general elements: building up “green” energy capacity and infrastructure (with, in the case of the Green New Deal, lots of public investment); seeking to maintain or accelerate economic growth without increasing energy demand; and intervening in the market by setting a price on carbon in the event that greenhouse emissions are not declining fast enough.

If we are to eliminate fossil fuels from our society, the development of non-fossil energy capacity, as called for by the Green New Deal, will be urgently needed. The national climate discussion, however, appears to be based on an implicit assumption that as new energy capacity comes online in the coming decade or two, it will push an equal quantity of fossil-energy capacity offline. History and research argue against that assumption, showing that with economic growth, new energy sources simply add to the existing energy supply rather than replace it.

The idea that investment in solar and wind technology and green infrastructure can work its way through the market to automatically eliminate fossil-fuel use and emissions is not supported by the evidence. So various interventions have been suggested to give new energy sources a leg up in the market.

For example, governments could tax each of the fossil fuels based on the carbon emissions it produces; require energy companies to buy permits to burn or sell fossil fuels; or provide homeowners

56 | JUNE/JULY 2020

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