A growing collection of achievable and proven policy changes that address the climate crisis and the economic inequality crisis at a local level.
The Climate Crisis
The climate crisis is real and the negative effects from it are already being felt throughout North Carolina.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given society until 2045 to become carbon-neutral and prevent a devastating rise in global temperature.
The Inequality Crisis
Climate change is not the only crisis our nation is facing. Economic inequality in America has reached historic proportions and, again, Durham is witnessing the painful negative effects that come with it. Affordable housing, reliable transit, and equitable access to services and education are issues that need Durham's full attention in 2020.
By the Numbers
Real Problems & Real Solutions
REAL PROBLEM: A Lack of Transit Infrastructure
Durham’s current land-use policies do not support transit infrastructure, forcing residents to rely heavily on personal vehicles, and stranding people who do not own a car or are unable to drive. In addition to dramatically increasing our output of pollutants and planet-warming gases into our environment, this built pattern combines with gentrification and displacement of residents to push poverty to areas not well-served by transit on the outskirts of Durham.
GNDD SOLUTION: Improve Walkability and Increase Sustainable Transit Options
Transit accessibility isn’t just about bus routes. It is about the built patterns that support transit. This Green New Deal for Durham incorporates multiple policy changes related to land use reform and zoning law that will all contribute to making Durham a more accessible, inclusive, and carbon-neutral community. The primary goals of these new policies will be to end urban sprawl, make Durham more transit and pedestrian-friendly, and ensure that all new developments are held to green building standards. Our GNDD also includes bus rapid transit as a system that links Durham to the rest of the Triangle.
REAL PROBLEM: Economic Inequality in Durham
Our national, state, and local economic policies have produced the greatest inequality crisis this nation has ever seen. In Durham, the suburbanization of poverty (a trending phenomenon where poverty rates in suburban neighborhoods are rising at alarming rates) is rapidly taking a toll on lower-income residents - especially in our historically marginalized populations. Wages are stagnant, affordable housing is disappearing, and our governing system is set-up to favor the wealthy and connected.
GNDD SOLUTION: Local Economic Development Reforms
Our Green New Deal for Durham reforms our economic development program; shifting funding away from corporate development packages and re-investing it in local businesses and communities.
Use economic development funds for low-interest loans to local entrepreneurs, including low-wealth people who often suffer unfairly from bad credit scores.
Create more fiscally balanced, transit-accessible built and natural environments that bring jobs closer and make them more accessible to more of our residents
Restructure Durham's economic development programs to stimulate a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem of worker-owned businesses that leverage existing anchor institutions like Durham Tech, Duke, NCCU, credit unions, and regional partners.
REAL PROBLEM: Exclusive & Disconnected Government
Many Durham residents, especially the historically marginalized, do not feel meaningfully empowered to collectively shape Durham and plan for the future of their communities. That’s because, regardless of our current elected officials, Durham government is structured to respond to politically connected and wealthy individuals.
GNDD SOLUTION: Democratize Durham
Our top-down system of government will be reformed to work from the bottom up. The new system will provide avenues for residents to be able to collectively shape their neighborhoods through land use and capital needs. A system of neighborhood and area planning will be established so that residents co-lead planning projects with city planners, developing a vision for their communities and the blueprint for land use, capital investments, and social and economic programs to achieve it.
REAL PROBLEM: Inadequate Climate and Energy Action
Durham County’s 2018 Renewable Energy Resolution calls for 100 percent clean energy in County operations by 2050. But County operations make up less than two percent of countywide emissions, leaving over 98% emissions from remaining sources throughout the County unaddressed. Without a transparent and accessible system of goal-setting and accountability, Durham will continue to miss out on opportunities to invest in clean energy sources and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
GNDD SOLUTION: Updated Clean Energy Goals & New Investments
Through a new responsible system of growth management, this GNDD creates widespread clean and energy-efficient buildings; walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented development patterns that burn fewer fossil fuels; and greater fiscal balance. Collaboration with local environmental justice groups and public pressure on Duke Energy will be advanced to move Durham toward a future of renewable energy.
REAL PROBLEM: Funding and Inequality in Education
State and federal policies have been destructive to our public schools, but many of our local policies have also worked against our children. School segregation is not gone or going away. In fact, for years, our schools have been re-segregating. Our land-use policy, which encourages and rewards homogeneous neighborhoods on the periphery of our city, is a major driver of re-segregation. Meanwhile, this type of development drains limited resources from our schools and other critical government programs. Durham is plagued by such development and the redistricting and new schools that are built to accommodate it.
GNDD SOLUTION: Reform for Green and Accessible Schools
Through land-use reform, resources that were tied down in maintenance of a costly low-density infrastructure will become freed up for spending on teachers and schools. An additional $650 million in bonds will be issued and state lottery money will be used for school repair and green building upgrades over the next ten years. Our Green New Deal for Durham will also aggressively push forward and champion the NC Solar Schools Initiative and 100% renewable energy in all public schools.
REAL PROBLEM: Underfunded Information Systems
Over the past decade, our local media ecosystem has been decimated. Journalists have been laid off, and those that are working are working long hours for inadequate pay. There are major stories being missed, and often journalists do not have the time to understand and adequately report key context for stories. Meanwhile, many people are getting their news from social media or from biased sources. The Washington Posts' slogan rings true: "Democracy Dies in Darkness."
GNDD SOLUTION: Create a Diverse Media Eco-System with Journalism Vouchers
A Green New Deal for Durham will establish Democratic Journalism Vouchers to allow residents to use tax dollars to support independent investigative local journalism, empowering them with better information for informed objective decision-making. Each resident will be offered an amount of money – such as a $20 annual voucher – that they can direct toward a non-profit local media source of their choice. An independent commission will be established to write the rules and oversee the voucher’s implementation.
Vote for a Greener Durham
I am thrilled to propose a Green New Deal for Durham to advance a bold, and achievable agenda here in my hometown. There are many environmental groups in Durham working on local policy solutions to address climate and environmental issues. My proposal contributes to that communitywide collaborative discussion and is not intended as a final stand-alone solution.
This proposal for a Green New Deal for Durham presents a collection of policy and system changes that seek to reform government to support more community-driven decision-making, overhaul Durham’s zoning regulations to create more walkable and transit-oriented development, and issue bonds to upgrade school buildings and make them more energy resilient. Other proposals include diverting economic development funds to grow worker-owned businesses, planting street trees along every new street, requiring new buildings be energy-efficient, and funding local independent journalism.
I will work collaboratively to improve and implement this platform and restructure the government to empower Durham communities. Let's stand up to the imbalanced influence of big developers in Durham and fight to make our community more sustainable for our friends, neighbors, and future generations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this the same as the federal Green New Deal package?
The Green New Deal is, according to the Sunrise Movement, “a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2030, a guaranteed living-wage job for anyone who needs one, and a just transition for both workers and frontline communities.” The federal government has substantially more power to tax and spend and invest in new forms of energy and regional transportation. However, even the federal Green New Deal has no authority over land use, which is governed at the local level. Therefore, a Durham Green New Deal not only acts boldly, where the federal and state GOP-controlled governments move too slowly, it uses the unique authorities available to local government to enact sweeping change that empowers communities and creates green and inclusive places.
How will these initiatives and policies be funded?
The most impactful changes of a Green New Deal for Durham will result in substantial long-term cost savings. Durham taxpayers subsidize low-density commercial and residential development on the community’s fringes, by having to replace, maintain, and service areas that are designed and located in places that do not cover their own costs.
However, a Green New Deal for Durham does include substantial expenditures for new infrastructure and programs, particularly for schools. These expenditures are needed due to the poor policies carried out by GOP-led federal and state governments, in particular those that underfund our public schools and seek to privatize the school system at great cost to parents, teachers, and society as a whole.
Will any of these policies make my taxes go up?
Land use reform and growth management will finally advance greater fiscal balance, which our leaders have long overlooked. Federal and state tax cuts that shift resources away from public goods and toward wealthy households and major corporations. Some local school bonds may need to be issued that could increase taxes. In collaboration with the city, initiatives will be carried out to reduce tax burdens on low wealth households, particularly in gentrifying neighborhoods.
What does carbon neutral mean?
Carbon neutral means having a net-zero carbon footprint. In other words, a carbon-neutral community emits the same amount of carbon that it captures. Cars and trucks emit enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Homes, businesses, and industries use energy that comes mostly from nuclear, coal, and gas-fired power plants. Carbon is captured through trees and vegetation.
How do you expect to implement any of this as a County Commissioner?
As County Commissioner I will need to build support among my colleagues. I have a long track record of collaborative work among large diverse groups. I am able to bring together different kinds of people to find common approaches to difficult challenges and I think that I will be able to do that on the Durham County Commission.
How are climate change and economic inequality connected?
Climate change and inequality are advanced from the same unjust economic and governance system that favors large landlords, corporations, and the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis that will affect everyone, but it will have especially devastating impacts on the most vulnerable in our communities. We must address these crises with the sense of urgency they deserve.
Is this the only proposal for a Green New Deal for Durham?
Like the multiple Green New Deal proposals at the federal level, the Green New Deal for Durham is an increasingly popular idea with multiple groups working on solutions for achieving carbon neutrality. My proposal for a Green New Deal for Durham contributes to that communitywide conversation and this campaign looks forward to continuing the diverse conversations around making Durham more responsible to future generations.