Almost seven months have passed since the November day when a few hundred young people, associated with a new climate-activism group called the Sunrise Movement, crammed into Nancy Pelosi’s office. America’s youngest congresswoman-elect ever joined them. “This is not about me,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was effectively leading a protest on her first day on Capitol Hill. “This is about uplifting the voice and the message of the fact that we need a Green New Deal.”
Ocasio-Cortez is still a star. Presidential candidates are courting the Sunrise Movement’s favor. And the Green New Deal has transformed the climate fight both in the United States and around the world.
Yet it remains unclear what would actually be in a Green New Deal. While a handful of candidates have released their own attempts at a Green New Deal, the tight network of progressives most closely linked to the plan have offered little new detail. In particular, the think tank known as New Consensus—ostensibly in charge of turning the Green New Deal into real policy—has published almost nothing substantial about it.
“I think they’ve done a pretty good job of compiling the scope, the scale, and the goals of the Green New Deal,” Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, told me. “I think we’re still in the process of getting people to imagine what we’re talking about.” But in the current informational vacuum, the plan’s supporters have sometimes faltered, allowing pundits, lobbyists, and other politicians to rush in and define the Green New Deal’s terms. “One reasonable summary of what has happened is that everybody except the people who say they are doing the Green New Deal are doing the Green New Deal,” said an activist who asked not to be named to avoid damaging relationships with New Consensus.