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The Green New Deal Represents a New Era of Politics, According to Greg Carlock

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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey hug each other as other Congressional Democrats look on during a news conference unveiling a Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7th, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Before the world saw the draft of the Green New Deal that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released in February, a handful of activists and wonks had read an earlier draft of a proposal by the same name, written in large part by Greg Carlock for the progressive think tank Data for Progress (DFP) and published in September of last year. When Ocasio-Cortez joined activists with the Sunrise Movement to occupy Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s office in support of the then-little-known Green New Deal, DFP’s draft was the only policy plan that was accessible to the public. In the weeks following, many journalists cited Carlock’s report in their write-ups explaining the possibilities of the GND: Vox’s David Roberts wrote in December that DFP’s plan was the “first and thus far only serious effort to fill out the policy side.”

Though Carlock wasn’t directly involved in drafting the latest version of the plan, a copy had circulated among Markey’s staff as they crafted their version. Both drafts address updates to the electricity grid, a federal jobs guarantee, and technology investments, but Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s GND focuses more on social programs like affordable housing and public banking—elements that Carlock’s version didn’t have.

Given the stagnation we’ve seen on climate policy for years, Carlock, who directs research on the Green New Deal for Data for Progress, says he’s enthused by the conversation around the GND. He’s worked on environmental policy for places like the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Resources Institute (which are unaffiliated with his work for DFP), and says he views the Green New Deal as an event that future generations will point to and say, this is when “humans decided to go a different direction.”

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