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Green New Deal Year One: What We’re Fighting For

Sunrise Movement Our Time To Lead Climate March

Nothing is won without a fight. With Democratic control of Congress and the White House, the possibilities of what we can achieve together are limited only by the optimism of our imagination and our will to build a movement so big and powerful our demands are impossible to ignore. For the past few years we’ve fought tooth and nail to make the climate crisis the top issue in American politics. We’ve done that by tying our survival as a species to a pivotal massive transformation of our entire economy to create millions of good-paying union jobs. Now, it’s our duty to follow through on that bold vision by making core tenets of the Green New Deal a reality.

Today, we celebrate and take a breath. Tomorrow, we start holding Biden’s feet to the fire in a nation-wide Day of Action to let him, Congress, and the whole country know: no compromise and excuses when it comes to addressing the crises we face. We have a historic opportunity to transform this country, and we’re damn well gonna put up a fight. 


1. Deliver immediate and direct relief to people, not to corporate CEOs or fossil fuel polluters.

These are common sense measures that we needed nine months ago and have only become more urgent since then. Everyone, regardless of immigration status, should have what they need to survive. 

  • Recurring $2,000 checks
    • Democrats won the Senate on the strength of their promise of $2,000 checks. It is essential that they deliver on that promise immediately to strengthen the trust of the American people. They should take up Vice President Kamala Harris’ legislation for $2000 recurring checks for the duration of the pandemic.
  • Unemployment insurance
    • Build on the success of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program by providing $600 weekly to anybody who is unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
  • State and local aid
    • Support public schools, libraries, fire departments, colleges and universities, public employees and pensioners, and all other essential programs that depend on state and local government funding, by replacing revenue that states and municipalities have lost due to the pandemic.
  • Ban evictions and utility shutoffs
    • Nobody should be evicted or lose their water and heat because of financial difficulties during a pandemic. Extend and enforce the federal eviction ban issued by the CDC, establish a nationwide moratorium on utility shut-offs, and enforce both aggressively.

2. Put an end to Republic minority rule and ensure a true multiracial democracy that works for all of us.

Every time GOP elites win power, they use it to erode democracy and dismantle the life-saving government programs of the first New Deal. Their goal is permanent minority rule by a few rich white businessmen. Democrats must move firmly to expand democracy and make government work for the people. 

  • Protect and expand the right to vote, realize a multi-racial democracy in America
    • The rights of democracy have never included all of us — but through the efforts of many generations, the right to vote has been expanded from a few property-owning white men to all citizens regardless of wealth, gender or race. We must protect this right and make it real by removing barriers to voting. Pass the For the People Act (HR1), which improves voter access and registration, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR4), which prohibits states and municipalities from engaging in voter suppression, and the Fair Representation Act (HR4000) which would ensure and allow rank choice voting and true proportional representation.
  • Hold Trump and his enablers accountable
    • Impeach and convict Trump so he may never again hold the office of president. Expel the seditious members of Congress who conspired with the plot to undermine the democratic process and incited domestic insurrection.
  • End the filibuster
    • The filibuster is a rule that allows any one Senator to block laws that are supported by the majority of the Senate. That’s minority rule. That’s not democracy! We must eliminate the filibuster to pass much of a Green New Deal into law. 
  • Expand the Supreme Court and federal judiciary
    • The Supreme Court is out of step with the views of the majority of Americans. Republicans have built a disproportionate court majority by using dirty tricks to block Obama’s appointments and confirm those of Trump. Expand the courts to respect the will of the people.
  • Ensure Statehood for Washington DC, and give Puerto Rico the choice
    • Washington, D.C.’s population exceeds that of Wyoming and Vermont, yet D.C.’s residents remain unrepresented in the US Senate. No taxation without representation. Make D.C. a state. Similarly, admit Puerto Rico as a state, should Puerto Ricans decide that they desire statehood.
  • Use the full force of the government to mobilize on climate
    • The Green New Deal is an economy-wide effort that requires effective coordination across all government agencies and levels of government. The newly created White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy should be given a mandate to coordinate bold action across all government agencies, including goals and timelines for decarbonizing all sectors of the economy, and the power to hold the cabinet, agencies, and departments accountable. The federal government should set emissions limits on climate pollution and transform its operations to 100% clean, renewable energy by no later than 2025. They should also ensure that government spending and purchasing is climate- and worker-friendly, and shift existing funding pools to solar and wind energy, electric vehicles, regenerative agriculture, and financing for rural communities. 
  • Mobilize our resources to the fullest
    • The Green New Deal is an economy-wide effort that requires effective mobilization of resources across the public and private sector, and strong mechanisms for the government to hold the private sector accountable. Congress should create a National Investment Authority or Infrastructure Bank to serve this function by repeating and improving upon the New Deal-era Reconstruction Finance Corporation and driving public and private capital to clean and equitable infrastructure projects. Additionally, the Biden Administration should declare a climate emergency and use the Defense Production Act to spur green manufacturing. President Biden should also use his bully pulpit to push Congress to do what it takes to pass his agenda, including abolishing the filibuster, to make real his commitments for economic relief and green recovery across the country. 
  • End the era of impunity for white collar criminals
    • The men who burned the Earth, broke the government, and impoverished millions of people must be held accountable. Fossil fuel executives and other agents of corruption must be brought to trial by Congress and the Biden administration. In no case should the regulation of carbon pollution or liability for the damage caused by the fossil fuel industry be waived or pre-empted.


Democrats should show us that they are on the side of working people by guaranteeing every American a good job, expanding workers’ rights like we haven’t seen since the 1930s, and delivering investment equitably to every community, whether Black, white, brown, or Indigenous, whether urban or rural. This isn’t just good politics — it’s necessary to limit warming to the manageable level of 1.5° C, revive an economy ravaged by COVID-19, and undo the racial and economic inequality that is killing us.

  • Set binding timelines to beat the climate clock
    • Ensure we are well on our way towards a 100% clean, renewable energy economy by the end of the decade. 100% clean, renewable electricity by no later than 2035, 100% zero-emission vehicles by no later than 2030, 100% clean buildings by 2025, and aggressive standards across industry and agriculture as well.
  • Guarantee a good job to every person who wants one
    • Meaningful, family-sustaining work is a human right. Now is the time to enshrine this right in law through a job guarantee, which was championed by the labor movement of the 1930s and the Black freedom movement of the 1960s. As part of a job guarantee, create a Civilian Climate Corps to employ hundreds of thousands of people to do the urgent work of repairing and strengthening our communities in the face of climate change. 
  • Get to work decarbonizing America 
    • Create at minimum 10 million green jobs: retrofit and upgrade all commercial and residential buildings to 100% sustainability, focusing on public schools, colleges, and universities and expanding and retrofitting public housing and upgrading low-income homes; expand regenerative agriculture and level the playing field for family farmers through supply management and enforcing antitrust laws; build accessible and low-carbon public transit for all; expand wind and solar energy, including rooftop solar; and modernize and democratize our energy grid. 
  • Get to work caring for each other and the planet
    • Not all green jobs require a hard hat. Create low-carbon, green jobs in education, the arts, public recreation, childcare, elder care, health care, and responding to heat waves and disasters. Fix, replace, and expand water infrastructure to guarantee clean water for all, and care for the planet by restoring natural ecosystems and remediating toxic sites.
  • Go big on investment
    • Direct federal investments towards decarbonizing our economy should total at least $10 trillion over 10 years, with $4 trillion in the first 4 years. The $2 trillion over 4 years promised in Biden’s Build Back Better plan is headed in the right direction, but still insufficient for the scale of the crisis we face.
  • 40% for the frontlines
    • At least 40% of decarbonizing investments—equating to at least $1.6 trillion over 4 years and $4 trillion over 10 years—must go directly to communities on the frontlines of pollution and historically excluded from investment. This commitment to environmental justice was already promised in Biden’s Build Back Better plan, as well as the THRIVE Resolution, and must undergird all Green New Deal-style investments.  
  • Empower workers in the workplace and in the economy
    • Pass the PRO Act to protect the right of workers to organize and form a union. Prevent exploitation by requiring that all Green New Deal projects adopt strong wage standards and project labor agreements. Encourage expansion of worker ownership, including worker co-ops, as a way to democratize the economy and build community wealth. Protect workers at home and abroad by reforming trade agreements to prioritize workers and climate over corporations.
  • Ensure a just transition for impacted communities
    • Workers in fossil fuels and other polluting industries have given their lives and bodies to power this country. We owe it to them to make their families and communities whole as the economy transitions away from fossil fuels, through direct provision of five years of wage and benefit guarantees, other benefits, and targeted industrial policy to establish diversified and healthy economies in former extractive regions and deindustrializing communities. The energy transition is happening one way or another; the government has a responsibility to manage this transition for the benefit of all, and with impacted workers and community members as equal partners in the process.
  • Respect and protect the sovereignty of Indigenous nations
    • Indigenous nations are independent of the United States and are the sovereign protectors of their territories, but they have been repeatedly harmed through genocide, broken treaties, forced assimilation, and the theft of sacred land for extractive projects.  The Biden administration should sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and ensure free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect them and their traditional territories. Indigenous peoples are, and should be seen as, leaders in the project of healing our land and culture.
  • Use climate action as a form of reparations
    • The Green New Deal is a once-in-a-century reinvention of our society; we must take this opportunity to eliminate the foundational inequalities that have plagued America since its founding. Black people in this country are owed reparations for the historic injustices of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and ongoing discrimination to this day. People of the Global South are owed climate reparations–through the Green Climate Fund and more– to manage the impacts of climate change, which have fallen disproportionately on the Global South despite being driven by nations of the Global North.
  • When we say for all, we mean it
    • All job programs and all benefits of these programs must be accessible to everybody, regardless of citizenship status or criminal record. Ensure that everyone reaps the benefits of clean air, clean soil, and clean water by developing and implementing a “No Hotspots” policy to prevent unjust pollution disparities.
  • Don’t dig the hole deeper
    • We are already extracting and burning more fossil fuels than the planet can bear. No government investments, bailouts or subsidies may go to support fossil fuel polluters or the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure at home or abroad. Permits should be immediately denied or rescinded for the Dakota Access, Line 3, Keystone XL, and all other pipelines under federal jurisdiction. Cease all current permits and prohibit any future development of fossil fuels on public lands and waters. Use a “climate test” that ensures no federal investments undermine our mission to limit warming to 1.5° C. 


Trump is out, and Biden is in! Democrats control the House and the Senate! The stage is set: In the next few months, we have our best chance to start making the Green New Deal a reality. Join us to celebrate and envision what the path forward could look like: What we need to see Biden and Congress do in these first 100 days, and the role our movement needs to play in making that happen.

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