Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on How to Build a Green New Deal

The congresswoman on her vision for a post-fossil-fuel future and an economy that works for working people

There was, essentially, no Green New Deal before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was just a slogan rolling around the mouths of newspaper columnists and environmental activists until the 30-year-old political phenom put her star power behind it. Just a month after she was sworn in as the youngest congresswoman in history, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey debuted a 14-page resolution outlining the principles she hopes will form the foundation for a slew of climate legislation over the next decade. A jobs program to save the planet shouldn’t be all that controversial, but skeptics along the political spectrum found something to hate. The concept was ridiculed by Republicans even as some attempted to co-opt it (Rep. Matt Gaetz’s Green Real Deal), and deemed too audacious by liberal Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the Green New Deal’s ambition was always the point, and in just one year, it has already dramatically changed the way Washington talks about the climate crisis. This winter, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a plan committing to a 100 percent clean-energy economy by 2050 — three times longer than the Green New Deal’s 10-year timeline, but a quantum leap from the toothless regulations that typified past policy conversations.