The Green New Deal isn’t blue enough, according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
That’s why, on Tuesday morning, she released her Blue New Deal, essentially a Green New Deal for the oceans. In it, she’s pushing offshore wind energy, taking on polluters who are damaging the oceans, and funding programs that help coastal communities cope with rising sea levels.
And she wants to do all of this while creating millions of green — erm, blue — jobs.
The idea for a Green New Deal for the oceans has been floating around at least since CNN’s climate town hall a few months ago, where a shellfish farmer explicitly asked Warren if she’d support such a plan.
“I like that!” Warren responded enthusiastically. “I think he’s got it exactly right. I think we need a Blue New Deal as well.”
Warren was one of the original co-sponsors of the Green New Deal resolution, but, as the shellfish farmer at the town hall noted, that resolution only mentioned the oceans once.
Oceans play a huge role in keeping the climate stable. As humans have pumped climate-heating greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the oceans have acted as a buffer, absorbing much of that carbon and keeping it from warming the planet. The trouble is, they’re just about saturated with those gases now, and won’t be able to absorb much more.
Earlier this year, the UN released a landmark report on oceans and arctic regions earlier this year. The international talks organized by the UN this week in Madrid, Spain, known as COP25, have been dubbed Blue COP, to highlight the importance of the oceans to the climate.
And now Warren’s joining the conversation with yet another elaborate climate plan from her campaign geared at protecting the oceans, fisheries, and the people who live along the coast from the most pernicious effects of climate change.
Boost offshore wind — even if the wealthy complain
Her plan wants to boost offshore wind energy production, which she said could provide four times the current energy capacity of the grid and create some 36,000 jobs in the process, and she wants to unionize the new blue economy. She won’t let aesthetic concerns get in the way of building wind farms.
“The climate crisis is too urgent to let the ultra-wealthy complain about wind turbines getting in the way of their ocean views,” she wrote in the plan.
Your car could drive on algae
And coastal ecosystems, as Warren correctly notes, are remarkably good at keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. Mangroves and wetlands store fives times as much carbon per acre as tropical forests. But they’ve been widely paved over for development and are suffering as the conditions of the oceans change as the planet heats up. Warren’s proposing a marine carbon sequestration program, aimed at improving marine ecosystems’ capacity to keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
Plus, there’s all sorts of innovative solutions that the oceans are crucial to. There’s tech in the works that could allow our cars to be powered by algae. Warren wants to invest in it.
Making sure fisherman can put food on the table
Fisheries have been hurting as the planet’s warmed — and it’ll only get worse. About 20 percent of all life in the ocean is expected to disappear between now and the end of the century unless emissions are drastically reduced, the UN’s scientists reported this year. That will severely impact economies that rely on fisheries.
Warren said that she’d work toward fully rebuilding fisheries by more aggressively enforcing the laws already on the books and direction federal agencies to create plans to protect life in the oceans as the climate changes, as well as developing a seafood processing infrastructure in the U.S. (Her plan notes that tons of fish are sent to Asia for processing before being re-imported to the U.S.)
Protecting vulnerable communities along the coasts
For communities that live along impacted coastlines, Warren wants to invest in programs that bolster communities before a natural disaster. Her campaign is proposing devoting five times as much funding to pre-disaster programs as the federal government current does. She also wants to fund programs that move people away from coastal areas that become dangerous or constantly flooded, and reform the flood insurance program. No new public housing would be built within five miles of the coast, under her plan.
Taking on big oil
And, of course, Warren wants to go after the oil industry. She’s already proposed funding some of her $3 trillion green agenda by suing the fossil fuel industry — she’ll fund this program with that same pot of money, her campaign told Earther. On Tuesday, she proposed phasing out offshore drilling entirely.
Cover: Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren addresses her supporters in Manchester. (Photo: Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)