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  • US States, Industry Push Action on 'Green New Deal'
Published 20 June 2019

As the New York State Senate passed a bill for their own Green New Deal, industry activists push for grassroots change.

Individual states and industry groups are charting their own course towards achieving climate goals defined in the Green New Deal legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives as Resolution 109 in February but which remains unresolved and stuck in House committees.  

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In one example of independent action by industry groups, The Architecture Lobby (TAL) recently issued a public memo providing guidelines for how the architecture industry can respond to climate change, what role they should play in achieving decarbonization in the United States, and the importance of worker rights in the face of such a massive undertaking.

Their message is based on the development that in February 2019, United States (U.S.) congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) introduced Resolution 109 (H.Res.109) into the House of Representatives. The bill would breath legal life into the much anticipated Green New Deal, the centerpiece of her successful 2018 campaign platform.

H.Res.109 establishes several goals, to be achieved within 10 years — two years prior to when a U.N. report predicted that climate change will become so catastrophic as to threaten the existence of civilization. Among those goals are the reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, the establishment of millions of high-wage jobs, investment in infrastructure and technology, the protection of natural resources to ensure food security, and the promotion of social justice and equality.

In the four months since its introduction, the bill has been referred to various committees and subcommittees within the House, but has yet to be brought to any vote.

The group of activist architects at TAL define themselves via their Twitter page as “a collective of architectural workers advocating for the VALUE of the LABOR required to design, construct, and occupy architecture.” Their ten-point “manifesto” published on their website expresses their commitment to worker rights within the architecture community, which in their memo they stress could be achieved in the context of a Green New Deal

TAL’s statement is based in the belief that “the redistribution of political and economic power outlined by the resolution is mandatory to effectively respond to the climate crisis,” while also calling for “architects, designers, and allied disciplines to join in the work of creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”

“Architects must reject the current model of practice as a service profession responding primarily to private capital,” read the statement, as well as calling on architects to unionize, organize and create a code of ethics.

Others who have not stopped to wait for action by the U.S. federal government, are individual states. On Wednesday, the New York State Senate passed a version of the Green New Deal which was inspired by targets in H.Res.109.

According to some New York senators opposed to it, the legislation is unfeasible based on current technology and would only create joblessness and high energy prices in the state. AOC's resolution calls for investment in technology on the scale of the U.S. effort to create the nuclear bomb.

A supporter of the bill, Senator Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat, responded to these criticisms by saying, “There was no plan, and so we have to make up for lost time.” He lamented, “I wish we didn’t have to be this aggressive, but we have no choice.”

With New York being such a major hub for architectural innovation, TAL could have an ally in recognizing their assessment that “There can be no sustainable world without sustainable labor practices.”

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