Democrats are increasingly embracing the idea of a “Blue New Deal” following Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) call for such during CNN’s 7-hour climate change town hall last week.
The idea started to gain traction after a fisherman spoke to Warren at the town hall event, expressing concern the Green New Deal does not go far enough to address problems associated with the oceans.
“My oyster farm was destroyed by two hurricanes. Now warming waters and acidification are killing seed coast to coast and reducing yields. Those of us that work on the water, we need climate solutions and we need them now,” the man said.
“The trouble is, is the Green New Deal only mentions our oceans one time. This is despite the fact that our seas soak up more than 25 percent of the world’s carbon. So what’s your plan for a Blue New Deal for those of us working on the oceans?” he asked.
Warren immediately embraced the idea of a “Blue New Deal.”
“I like that,” Warren said.
“I think he’s got it exactly right. We need a Blue New Deal, as well,” she continued, telling the audience about her conversations with commercial fishermen who say the warming waters are making their jobs more difficult.
I talk to folks who fish commercially off our shores, down by New Bedford, up by Gloucester. You know what they tell me? They keep pulling stuff up that they don’t even know what it is.
And so what do they do? I talked to one who said, so I’d call my brother-in-law who fishes commercially off the coast of Florida, because I send him pictures and he says, oh, yeah, we used to catch those down here. But now they’ve moved to Boston and to the waters around Massachusetts and New England.
So here’s what really scares me. This isn’t slowing down. It’s speeding up. Where are they going next? And what are we going to be left with? We count on our oceans for life, not just for food, but what it means in our entire climate.
You want to call it a Blue New Deal, count me in. But part of getting the carbon out of the air, out of the water, out of the soil is also about the change in what’s happening in our oceans, these big dead patches now and the patches of trash.
However, Warren did not issue a specifics for a Blue New Deal proposal:
Which goes back to a point I was making earlier, and that is we can’t just think about cleaning up the United States of America. We cannot think about from the East Coast to the West Coast, plus Hawaii and Alaska. We can’t just think from the Canadian border down to the border with Mexico. We have to think about the whole world.
And that’s why many of my plans intersect with our global opportunities and responsibilities. Like I said, lots of plans, elizabethwarren.com/climate. Because we’ve got to be working on all fronts.
"What's your plan for a blue new deal for those of us working on the ocean?" a #ClimateTownHall participant asked.
— CNN (@CNN) September 5, 2019
Despite Warren’s lack of details, Democrats seem to be on board with the concept.
The Hill reports:
“We’re trying to step into this void because most of the climate plans are really focused on the big manufacturing and industrial emitters and the big terrestrial sources of pollution,” said Jason Scorse, director of the Center for the Blue Economy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and any early crafter of the Blue New Deal approach.
“That’s great, and they should do this, but there is this overlooked ocean component that can play a big role in any eventual climate solution.”
“The ocean is a huge part of the climate system that people don’t talk about, and it could be part of the solution because the coastal ecosystem holds more carbon,” said Ayana Johnson, a marine biologist and founder of Ocean Collectiv. “It’s not green versus blue, it’s just that the ocean has a huge part to play in the climate system.”
“Coasts face unbelievable change. It’s not all related to climate and carbon but those are amplifying and accelerating those changes at every level from coastal infrastructure to fishery conservation,” said Brad Warren, executive director at the National Fisheries Conservation Center.
Scorse argues the U.S. needs to invest in aquaculture, “growing underwater plants that can capture carbon and protect against storm surges — along with shellfish like oysters that help filter the water,” the Hill reports. It adds that a Blue New Deal would emphasize tremendous investments in “coastal infrastructure.
Warren has yet to roll out an official Blue New Deal proposal, but her $3 trillion climate change plan– inspired by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) – is expansive, pulling from many of her existing plans to address issues broadly related to the topic of climate change.