Understanding Bernie’s “Green New Deal”

By Gatien Delaunay

Senator Sanders issued his promise to fight the fossil fuel industry, adopt renewable energy and make America wealthier

The Green New Deal was originally a congressional resolution that provided a comprehensive plan for tackling climate change. The resolution failed to pass on Mar. 29, 2019, due to partisan rivalries; it was backed by Democrats but strongly criticized by Republicans. Because the congressional plan has undergone changes and taken on new iterations since last Mar., the Green New Deal must be understood as a broad movement for political action rather than a specific and fixed set of legislative measures. Among these changes, one of the most ambitious proposals comes from Bernie Sanders as part of his presidential campaign.

Sanders places the fight with the fossil fuel industry at the heart of his agenda to solve Climate Change. The uniqueness of his plan, as opposed to other efforts made to decrease fossil fuel consumption, is the aggressiveness of his approach. If he is elected president, Sanders promises to direct his Department of Justice to pursue the criminal prosecution of fossil fuel companies. According to the Vermont senator, the corporations making a profit out of the fossil fuel industry are greedy and do not pay their fair share. In addition to that, Sanders would increase pollution penalties, raise taxes on emitters, and require fossil fuel companies to pay for a disaster risk bond. Along with this, Sanders – like many other Democratic candidates – aims to achieve carbon neutrality in the U.S. by 2050. However, Sanders is the only one to have fixed an intermediate goal of decarbonizing the two largest sources of emissions in the U.S. (transportation and power generation) by 2030. If this first goal is achieved, the U.S. emissions would already be lowered by 71%.

In addition to the Democratic candidate’s push to declare climate change a national emergency, Sanders’ New Green Deal also offers the hope of a better future for Americans, as he promises the end of unemployment in the U.S. by creating 20-million good-paying and secure jobs. With his legislative reform, Sanders also intends to assist the current fossil fuel workers during the energy transition, providing those who encounter difficulties when seeking new employment with a “salary, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support, and priority job placement.

In addition to creating jobs, the Democratic candidate ensures that his environmental plan will allow the U.S. and its citizens to save a lot of money. Indeed, according to Sanders, economists estimate that the U.S. would lose $34.5 trillion in economic activity by the end of the century if no action is taken. Sanders also affirms that in addition to saving money, there are major benefits that will come with an ecological transition. The Senator estimates that $2.9 trillion will be saved over 10 years and $70.4 trillion over 80 years.

Sanders’ Green New Deal guarantees a lot of benefits and surely brings hope, but at what cost? Many candidates plan to spend a considerable amount of money to solve Climate Change, but Sanders wins the Golden Palm, with $16.3 trillion to fight Climate Change. Moreover, he ensures that his plan will pay for itself within 15 years. Among the various sources of income, Sanders explained that over $2.3 trillion would be generated by collecting new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan and $1.2 trillion would be saved from reducing military expenses related to protecting oil shipping routes, and no less than $6,4 trillions of revenues would be generated by selling energy via power marketing authorities from 2023 to 2035.

In return and in addition to the considerable amount of money saved, Sanders promises to invest $1.52 trillion to deploy renewable energy and $852 billion for energy storage, as well as another $200 billion for the United Nations Green Climate Fund to help other countries reduce their emissions. $40 billion will also be spent to help under-resourced groups such as communities of color, indigenous people, young workers, and the elderly to de-marginalize them and offer them the opportunity to join the global effort towards ecological transition.

Numerous environmental plans exist. Some of the Democratic candidates like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have planned to invest large amounts of money to fight Climate Change. But Bernie’s Green New Deal remains special because of its boldness and commitment to overcoming any and all challenges.


Friedman, Lisa. “Bernie Sanders’s ‘Green New Deal’: A $16 Trillion Climate Plan.” The New York Times, August 22, 2019, sec. Climate.

Irfan, Umair. “Bernie Sanders’s Green New Deal, Explained.” Vox, August 22, 2019.

“Green New Deal.” In Wikipedia, February 20, 2020.

Bernie Sanders – Official Campaign Website. “The Green New Deal.” Accessed February 21, 2020.

Friedman, Lisa. “What Is the Green New Deal? A Climate Proposal, Explained.” The New York Times, February 21, 2019, sec. Climate.

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