The Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February to both houses of the U.S. Congress, signifies a new phase in the national debate over climate change policy in America. A central question of this debate is whether Congress should curtail fossil fuel use across American industries through a broad array of social and economic reforms and public works projects.

At a high level, the Green New Deal identifies a goal of keeping the global average temperature to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrialized levels by (i) reducing global greenhouse gas emissions from human sources by 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030; and (ii) achieving net zero global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A number of sweeping measures are proposed for the United States to help achieve these goals on a global scale; for example, meeting 100 percent of the U.S. power demand with renewable, zero-emission energy sources, and eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, industry, agricultural, and transportation sectors "as much as technologically feasible."

While the political makeup in Washington makes it implausible that the Green New Deal will become law in the near term, further legislative efforts to achieve these outcomes may be on the horizon. The potential impact of the ensuing debate will vary from company to company but, in almost all cases, warrants serious attention in business, political, and legal planning efforts. For more information, see the related Jones Day Commentary, which also discusses a recent preliminary injunction request challenging fossil fuels in a federal circuit court case.

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