The New York congresswoman on spoke in front of the Capitol to promote her plan, which set a series of ambitious targets such as eliminating U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade and transitioning the economy away from fossil fuels.
Ocasio-Cortez said that climate change must be viewed through the lens of race.
‘The climate crisis is a crisis born of injustice, and it is a crisis born of the pursuit of profit at any and all human and ecological cost,’ she said.
‘Which means that we must recognize in legislation that the trampling of indigenous rights is a cause of climate change, that the trampling of racial justice is a cause of climate change.
‘Because we are allowing people, and we are allowing ourselves, to deny ourselves human rights and deny people the right to health care, the right to housing and education.’
Her comments on Tuesday were immediately seized upon by her conservative critics, after Mike Berg, deputy communications director for the Republican National Convention, tweeted: ‘Wut?’
Commentator Mark Steyn appeared on Fox News on Wednesday night, calling it ‘rubbish’ and laughable.
‘The people who really laugh at this are Xi and the Chinese politburo,’ he told host Tucker Carlson.
‘Because they don’t have to bother talking about all of this. It frees up all of their time to talk about something important and something true.’
Carlson agreed, adding: ‘Climate change is racism is indigenous rights is infrastructure – it’s all bad, give me power.’
He said her words eroded ‘any incentive for anyone to engage in reason or measured debate. All they do is scream things that are demonstrably untrue, and it works.’
Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene also attacked Ocasio-Cortez’s policy.
She said it would ‘destroy the US’s oil and gas industry’, saying it would remove the country’s ‘negotiating power in the world’.
Initially introduced in 2019, the Green New Deal was relaunched ahead of Joe Biden’s climate summit, to be held virtually on Thursday and Friday.
The White House said 40 heads of state would attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping of China and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.
Ocasio-Cortez’s relaunch of her plan was timed to coincide with Biden’s summit.
‘For so long, our movement toward a sustainable future has been divided with really just this false notion that we have to choose between our planet and our economy,’ she said.
‘And we decided to come together in sweeping legislation that not only rejects that notion, but creates a plan for 20 million union jobs in the United States of America.’
It was not immediately clear whether the plan would receive a significantly warmer reception from Biden’s administration than it did from the administration of former President Donald Trump.
Biden announced in January that the United States would rejoin the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change, and has promised to put the country on track to net-zero emissions by 2050 – a much later deadline than the Green New Deal’s.
Asked if the lawmakers wanted to go beyond what Biden has proposed, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who is co-sponsoring the Green New Deal, said: ‘Yes. We believe that this is the moment that requires us to act big, think big, have a program that matches the magnitude of the problem that we’re confronted with.’
Markey and Ocasio-Cortez highlighted successes achieved since the release of the resolution, including General Motors’ announcement that it would sell all of its new cars, SUVs and light pick-up trucks with zero tailpipe emissions by 2035 and the House of Representatives’ vote to allow the construction of more public housing.
‘It’s possible to find middle ground in many areas of politics. I know because I’ve done it. But we cannot compromise now,’ Markey said.
‘We cannot compromise on the fate of our planet and on human civilization.’
The plan has received backing from 103 House lawmakers, Ocasio-Cortez said, including first-term congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri, a vocal supporter.
She tweeted on Monday: ‘We can build a future where our walls aren’t poisoning us with lead, we aren’t forced to breathe polluted air, and our neighborhoods are free of police violence.’
Republicans and Trump slammed the Green New Deal when it was first introduced, claiming adopting its goals would force Americans to cease traveling and not be able to eat meat.
‘The green new disaster is back,’ Republican Senator John Barrasso said in a statement on Monday, ahead of the relaunch.
‘Free market innovation is the best way to protect our air, water and communities – not heavy-handed government regulation or taxation.’
The plan calls for 100 per cent of power demand to be met from zero-emission energy sources like wind and solar, modernizing transportation infrastructure, cutting carbon emissions from the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, making buildings and homes more energy efficient and increasing land preservation.
It also aims to create an economic safety net for communities affected by climate change and the shift away from fossil fuel use, including through guarantees of healthcare, jobs and job training.
The plan’s name references President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, which sought to help Americans ailing from the Great Depression with huge government-led infrastructure projects.
Separately, Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, on Monday introduced their Green New Deal for Public Housing Act.
The bill would modernize the country’s 950,000 housing units to make buildings more energy efficient.
It would also require jobs created under the initiative to meet certain labor standards and allow for the creation of more public housing units.
It was not immediately clear how likely the bill is to pass in either congressional chamber.