The Commonwealth can’t afford to prioritize corporate profit over environmental protections, writes Silvia Serrano.
Nobody is happy with the Green New Deal. Both conservatives and progressives have criticized it for being unrealistic, or not specific enough. But one thing is clear: people are finally talking about climate change. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey said it is necessary to mobilize the country the same way we did during World War II. The reality is that there is no planet B. So the question is: How much are we willing to fight to save the only planet we have?
“If there is any national emergency in the country it is not immigration, it is climate change,” Zachary Brown, state senate candidate for the 10th district of Virginia, told me in an interview. He is not the only person in Virginia who supports the Green New Deal. In fact, many politicians and economic, environmental, and social groups came together last December to introduce Green New Deal Virginia. Del. Elizabeth Guzman, who represents Virginia’s 31st House of Delegates district, and Sam Rasoul are the founders of this project.
Guzman told me that she believes the Green New Deal makes it possible to achieve 100 percent renewable energy in Virginia by 2035. She said that the technology exists, and other countries like Iceland or even Costa Rica, a third world country, have already made this transition. That goal is even more ambitious than the GND, which aims to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable and zero-emission energy by 2050.
Dominion Energy is the largest provider of electricity in Virginia. On their website, they advertise themselves as a clean, reliable, sustainable energy. Nevertheless, their goal is to achieve only 15% renewable energy in Virginia by 2025. Because, Guzman told me, it is not their priority. She said Dominion is making more money with fossil fuel energy than offering renewable energy. According to Guzman, Dominion Energy is overcharging customers by hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Renewable energy requires an investment, but it is cheaper in the long term. So, is it because there is not enough money that companies are not investing in clean energy? That is difficult to believe when the President and Chief Executive Officer at Dominion Energy is making more than $14 million a year.
Money is the only reason for politicians not to support a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, according to Brown. He explained that people who have an interest in financially maintaining the current energy system, those who work for the fossil fuel industry, are giving large campaign contributions to political parties. In 2018, Dominion Energy donated more than $5 million to the Democrats and more than $6 million to the Republicans, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. Brown believes that every candidate who is serious about combating climate change needs to pledge not to take any campaign contributions from people like Dominion Energy.
The Green New Deal is not the first climate-change-related proposal from the Democratic Party, but so far, it is the biggest step forward in the fight against climate change. The proposal is a start. It has put climate change discussion on the table. What we need to do now is make sure that we are implementing specific policy proposals from this broad idea.
The Green New Deal is bold, because the situation requires us to be bold. Climate change is not a joke. It is going to require a lot of money, energy, and resources to save our planet — our only planet.
Note: Op-Eds are contributions from guest writers and do not reflect RVA Magazine editorial policy.
Top Photo by Shenandoah National Park — Timber Hollow Overlook. Public Domain, via Wikimedia