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Food at the Heart of a Green New Deal

As bright minds dig into the details of this proposal, it’s critical to keep in mind the role of food production in the climate crisis.

The Green New Deal should reflect the major role that food and agriculture can play in climate mitigation and adaptation. Photo Sunrise Movement.

Originally Published, Earth Island Journal, March 13, 2019

2009. That was the last year there was any significant legislation on the table to confront the climate crisis barreling down on us. The Waxman-Markey Bill passed in the House and failed in the Senate. And that was it: Over and out. Fossil fuel companies helped kill that bill and anything else aimed at regulating the industry, spending an estimated $2 billion since 2000 alone.

These billions have landed blow after blow to the environmental movement and, in turn, to the planet. Now, a new Congress and reenergized environmental movement is breathing fresh life into the idea of comprehensive climate change policy — and food and agriculture could, and should, play a starring role. The Green New Deal is what it’s being called, which The Hill characterizes as “a climate change initiative that aims to fight carbon emissions by transitioning the country to 100 percent renewable energy use.”

Few around the country had even heard of it just a few months ago. But in last year’s mid-term elections a number of the winning candidates, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, ran on a platform that included the Green New Deal. A week after those elections, the youth-led Sunrise Movement occupied Hous