A Green New Deal Is Already Underway in States and Cities

Momentum for a Green New Deal continues to grow.  Over 100 members of Congress have endorsed the landmark Green New Deal resolution and polls show broad support for this bold plan to tackle the climate crisis and pollution, create millions of high-paying jobs, and counteract systemic injustices. 

The policy changes envisioned in the Green New Deal resolution are not hypothetical. In fact, many are already happening at the state and local level, where broad local coalitions of labor, environmental, and racial justice groups are winning pro-climate, pro-jobs, pro-equity policies that help lay the groundwork for a national Green New Deal. In addition to more than 100 cities nationwide that have already committed to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, here are just a few examples of state and city initiatives that offer models and momentum for a nationwide Green New Deal.


The New York City Council recently passed a job-creating bill that takes aim at the city's largest source of climate pollution: inefficient buildings. The new policy, cited as part of the city's own Green New Deal, will require about 50,000 large buildings to meet ambitious targets for reducing climate pollution. The building retrofits required by the policy are expected to create about 8,000 jobs each year. To protect low-income residents, the policy includes terms to prevent rent increases in rent-regulated buildings. 


Maine recently enacted a new "Act To Establish a Green New Deal for Maine." The law will create a task force of labor, youth, climate science, and other representatives to craft a strategy for achieving 80% renewable energy in Maine by 2040, creating good jobs in renewable energy and manufacturing, and ensuring low-income households have access to affordable solar power. The Maine AFL-CIO has praised the policy, saying that workers must "have a seat at the table in crafting bold climate protection policies."


In April 2019, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti released an update to the Sustainable City pLAn, calling it "L.A.'s Green New Deal." The plan lays out the most ambitious and achievable climate goals for the city to date. It would invest in L.A.'s local workforce and economy by creating good union jobs for thousands of technicians, electricians, engineers, and other clean energy workers. Critically, the plan tackles the ongoing poor air quality that Los Angeles and other Southern California communities continue to breathe as the worst region for smog pollution in the country.


The Future Energy Jobs Act gives low-income families priority access to solar panels, while providing solar-installation job training, particularly for formerly incarcerated people and communities fighting environmental injustice. The law also sets new energy-efficiency standards that are slated to further reduce air and climate pollution, create over 7,000 new jobs each year to retrofit buildings, and cut $4 billion in energy costs for Illinois families.


In addition to committing to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, California’s Buy Clean policy helps stimulate clean manufacturing by requiring that tax dollars be spent on goods manufactured under conditions that protect our climate. The law will help ensure that when the state government buys steel for bridges or glass for offices, it sends tax dollars to manufacturers that are slashing their climate pollution and creating good jobs.


New Mexico has enacted a historic law to transition to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. The bill sets interim milestones for clean energy adoption and invests heavily in NM communities, accounting for retiring an existing coal-fired generating plant while pursuing a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future for NM workers and families.


In 2018, after a grassroots campaign led by communities of color, voters in Portland overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum that will raise $30-70 million per year, via a fee on big retailer profits, for energy efficiency, renewable energy, job training, affordable housing, regenerative agriculture, and green infrastructure projects. A new task force of city stakeholders will be tasked with deciding annually the beneficiaries of the fund, with at least half of the revenue going toward investments in low income communities and communities of color. 


In August 2019, the Seattle city council unanimously passed a resolution calling for a city-level Green New Deal, which seeks to eliminate Seattle’s climate pollution by 2030, address historical and current injustices, and create thousands of good, green, well-paying, unionized jobs. The effort is being led by local environmental justice organizations and frontline communities of color, and includes a "Healthy Homes, Healthy Businesses" ordinance that would require new buildings in the city to run on clean electricity rather than gas appliances.


Pittsburgh United's Clean Rivers Campaign has been pushing for job-creating green infrastructure projects that could drastically reduce flooding in some of the city’s vulnerable neighborhoods. They are one of many local coalitions across the country calling for, and often securing, public investments in green spaces to absorb rainwater, replacement of lead pipes, and other infrastructure upgrades to increase climate resilience and ensure clean water.


The Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 requires DC to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity sources by 2032. It also sets stronger, job-creating building performance standards to reduce energy use and make buildings more energy efficient and requires buses and large private vehicle fleets to transition away from dirty fuel and toward electric vehicles.