LYNN — In a jam-packed Marshall Middle School auditorium on Tuesday night, U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) discussed the highly politicized Green New Deal (GND).
Markey, who co-sponsored the GND with freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), organized the panel-style forum at the Lynn school with Dr. Stephen Young, a science and climate professor from Salem State University, and Roxana Rivera, vice president of 32BJ SEIU, one of the largest property services workers unions. The three of them were given a warm welcome from the audience, which was filled with local and state officials along with residents from all over eastern Massachusetts.
“The Green New Deal is something we need to take a serious look at,” said Mayor Thomas M. McGee during his introduction. “Climate issues are real and we are facing them every day in the city of Lynn.”
The GND lays out ways the U.S. can move to 100 percent clean, renewable and non-greenhouse gas committing technologies by 2030.
“This has unleashed a debate on climate change that we haven’t seen in 10 years,” Markey said. “No one running for president right now will be able to escape discussing a plan that deals with climate change.”
Markey said scientists from the United Nations issued a report in 2018 that stated climate change was much worse than they originally thought. If no action on climate change is taken, the planet’s temperature will increase 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, he said.
“Failure is not an option because the very health of our planet is at stake,” Markey said.
Markey said the Atlantic Ocean, which surrounds the North Shore, is the second fastest warming body of water at the moment. That fact plays a major role in why severe storms are becoming more intense year after year, he said.
“I’m a scientist and science is a pretty straightforward way for us to understand the world,” said Young. “We have a world that is continuously warming and seas that are rising … It’s not an issue of will it, it’s an issue of when.”
The first audience question came from a Lynn English senior named Vanessa. She asked Markey how, under the GND, he planned to help keep the jobs of coal, oil and fuel workers.
The deal would guarantee benefits for any worker in the “old industries” until they can find a new job or go through training for jobs in more efficient industries, Markey replied. Not forgetting about those employees and their families has to be a big part of the GND, he said.
The GND has a clear goal of being fully implemented by 2030. Yen, another senior from LEHS, asked the senator how practical that goal is.
“Our goal is 10 years but if it takes a little longer, then that’s OK,” Markey replied. “The only obstacle I see is a political one.”
Another audience member, who did not introduce themselves at the microphone, asked the senator how the GND was going to be funded. In his reply, Markey noted that Republicans have historically given tax breaks to oil and coal industries.
“We are looking for tax breaks in the same way the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries already receive them,” Markey said. “If they don’t give back anything then we, with the new energy technologies, should also receive the same benefits that they do as well.”
At the end of the event the senator and his panelists were given a standing ovation. Tom Costin, the 92-year-old former mayor of Lynn, applauded Markey and said he “always remembered to be a public servant over a public dictator.”
“The GND isn’t just a resolution,” Markey said. “It’s a revolution.”