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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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STOP! In the name of safety
STOP! In the name of safety
Izabella Paracuelles, Feature Editor • March 15, 2024
Launched in 2017, the Evanston Mural Arts Program collaborates with talented local artists to create visual art around the city. They have produced close to 30 murals throughout Evanston.
'Transforming spaces'
Audrey Bodine, Staff Writer • March 15, 2024
Competition, camaraderie...with food on the side
Competition, camaraderie...with food on the side
Stella Davis, Staff Writer • March 15, 2024
Books & Breakfast: a playful, positive approach to equity
Books & Breakfast: a playful, positive approach to equity
Jeremy Schoen, Staff Writer • March 15, 2024

Opinion | The Green New Deal is here to stay

Devastation. Despair. Doom. A worsening crisis. An immediate threat. An uphill climb. 

Then, the Green New Deal. A beam of light introduced to Congress in 2019 by a rising star: New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. An inspirational call for net-zero global emissions by 2050 and the elimination of coal, oil and gas from U.S infrastructure. A call for a radical transformation of transportation systems and agricultural practices. A call for community-based solutions—for restoration of underserved communities that have been devastated by dirty drinking water and poisonous air pollution.

“The United States must take a leading role in reducing emissions through economic transformation,” the proposal says. 

But the Green New Deal has not been passed. In fact, it has served as more of a political weapon than the tangible climate policy that it is. Conservatives put it at the forefront of their campaign against the “radical left.” Even Democrats showed resistance to this critical climate action.

When Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House in 2019, she dismissed AOC’s Green New Deal. “The green dream, or whatever they call it,” Pelosi said in an interview with Politico.

Joe Manchin, a Senate Democrat from West Virginia, voted against the policy in March, 2019. “I think we need to focus on real solutions that recognize the role fossil fuels will continue to play. That’s why I voted against the resolution today,” he said in a statement following the vote. According to the New York Times, Manchin owns a coal business that gave him a net worth between $4.5 million and $12.8 million in 2020. OpenSecrets reports that he was the largest Senate recipient of donations from oil and gas companies in 2022.

And now, the 2024 presidential primary has propelled anti-climate action sentiment to center stage. Prior to the Iowa caucuses in January, Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said, “On day one [of my presidency], I’m taking all the Biden regulations, the Green New Deal, ripping it up and throwing it in the trash can where it belongs.”

Former President Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has lit up his campaign trail with promises to “drill, baby, drill” for oil and gas if he’s elected president. 

The dangerous conservative rhetoric around climate change threatens everything. It threatens the ambitious climate commitments of Joe Biden’s $370 billion Inflation Reduction Act. It threatens the growing global movement to combat climate change. It threatens the lives of people whose homes are flooding, crops are dying and businesses are burning. We cannot afford to move backward.

Given the national deadlock between progressives and change-resisters, we must push forward locally. We must push forward in our schools and our city halls—in our community centers and our homes. The Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate justice organization that helped pioneer the Green New Deal proposal alongside Ocasio-Cortez and other politicians, consists of over 100 local hubs across the country advocating for a sustainable future. Sunrise is making waves, with Washington D.C. and Boulder, Colorado public schools winning “Green New Deal for Schools” resolutions with commitments to renewable energy and climate education, among other ambitious goals.

And as of Feb. 26, District 202 is the third school district with a Green New Deal. The school board passed a policy that was years in the making, traced back to the activism of the ETHS students who founded E-Town Sunrise in 2019. It calls for 100 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050, zero waste by 2045, plant-based and locally sourced cafeteria food options and ambitious climate education for teachers and students alike.

“Without a doubt, students were the driving force behind this process,” says Miah Ebels-Duggan, the Hub Coordinator of E-Town Sunrise last year. “It represents the best of ETHS: the drive for progress, student-staff collaboration, the support of our surrounding community and our commitment to respect for ourselves, everyone and everything in the world around us.”

This intergenerational movement is only beginning. On March 12, school administrators, teachers, students and community members met for the first time to discuss implementation of the policy. Led by ETHS sustainability coordinator John Crawford, whose position was formed after intense pressure on administrators by E-Town Sunrise in 2022, the newly-formed group will split into subcommittees to execute each of the goals laid out in the Green New Deal for ETHS. 

“There are a lot of staff that will be interested in this and being part of how we’re going to reach these goals,” Crawford says. “So [I’m] just looking forward to more students and staff being involved and learning.”

With the policy passed, our school embodies what Ocasio-Cortez dreamed of in 2019. It exemplifies what is possible through dedication to a livable future. The ETHS Green New Deal is “an inspiration for policies like this around the country,” Ebels Duggan emphasizes.

As we look to build one win into hundreds, we return to the political moment that this country finds itself in. We return to the danger that climate ignorers pose to this country. We return to the devastation. The despair. The doom. The worsening crisis. The immediate threat. The uphill climb.

And we remember what we’re fighting for. Clean energy. Sustainability. Justice. Hope. The next generation of activists is here, and we’re ready to stand up to every barrel of oil, every natural gas export and every dirty dollar entering the pockets of corrupt politicians until we win a national Green New Deal.

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Milo Slevin, Feature Editor
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