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Grassley Questions Green New Deal

John Grimm via flickr creative commons
Iowa's senior U.S. Senator has some reservations about a sweeping plan to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost economic development.

The Green New Deal has broad-based support among Democratic voters, according to a new Iowa poll. Ninety-one percent of likely Democratic voters favor candidates who support the Green New Deal, according to the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers. 

The proposal put forward by congressional Democrats aims to reduce the risks posed by climate change around the world by achieving global net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while bringing jobs to underserved communities. 

The plan draws on the October 2018 report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which projected the potential dangers posed by global climate change if the world's leaders don't act.

The analysis projects the impacts of 1.5°C of warming above pre-industrial levels. Study authors estimate the world will reach that level of warming between 2030 and 2052, if the current level of greenhouse gas emissions continues. According to the report, the world is currently at approximately 1.0°C above pre-industrial levels. 

The report authors outline a range of anticipated threats to ecosystems and human civilizations if the current rates of warming continue, including potentially devastating impacts to coastal and marine life. 

"Coral reefs, for example, are projected to decline by a further 70–90% at 1.5°C (high confidence) with larger losses (>99%) at 2ºC (very high confidence). The risk of irreversible loss of many marine and coastal ecosystems increases with global warming, especially at 2°C or more (high confidence)," the authors wrote.

Local communities dependent on agriculture and those along coastlines, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable populations are at "disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences with global warming of 1.5°C and beyond" the authors wrote.

Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says the U.S. is making strides on recuding its emissions, but implementing the plans outlined in the Green New Deal would depend on more cooperation from developing nations.

“If we really want to reduce global, greenhouse gases, we need to get China and India and Indonesia and Brazil to do what the United States is doing. I think they’re inclined to do it but they’re way behind the curve,” he said.

But the U.S. remains one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. According to the International Energy Agency, China released the most carbon dioxide from fuel combustion in 2016, followed by the U.S. and the E.U.

Grassley also raised concerns about the level of government oversight associated with the plan.

“You gotta look at some of these things where the government’s so involved…you might call it socialism," Grassley said. "But there’s a lot of things in the Green New Deal that isn’t socialism, and one them is alternative energy, cleaning up the environment.”

Many questions remain around what the specific implementation would look like and the political realities of advancing the plan. But authors of the IPCC report say human health and wellbeing is at risk.

"Any increase in global warming is projected to affect human health, with primarily negative consequences," the authors wrote. "[L]imiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C, could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050."

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter