AOC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Stake

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez AOC
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)

AOC, a democratic socialist, follows an ideology that acknowledges that “in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live.” She supports socialist economic policies and a democratic political system to address problems including climate change, income inequality, access to affordable healthcare, and criminal justice reform.  Following her ideology, AOC aims to challenge existing power structures and advocate for a more equitable and inclusive society through her drive to combat climate change. Ocasio-Cortez’s commitment to social and economic fairness is the foundation of her political philosophy. She argues that the nation’s current economic structure exacerbates income disparity and makes it difficult for many Americans from the working class to make ends meet. AOC has consistently emphasised how marginalised populations are disproportionately affected by climate change, specifically, groups she identifies with e.g.: families with lower incomes or families with an immigration background. Climate change makes already existing inequalities worse and can make these communities more financially vulnerable.  Some of the key challenges the US is currently facing due to climate change are magnifying the country’s social inequality and have consequently shaped the way Ocasio-Cortez is addressing climate change. 

Main Challenges Faced by AOC

The US faces multiple environmental challenges across various sectors. Air pollution is a significant issue, with high emissions from the energy and transportation industries affecting millions of Americans. Agricultural activities contribute to water pollution in rivers, streams, and lakes, particularly in drought-prone areas like California, where contaminated water poses health risks. Globally, water pollution has negative effects on biodiversity and human health. Droughts have severe economic impacts, with states such as California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas experiencing significant losses. Crop failures and water scarcity are direct consequences of prolonged drought conditions, highlighting the urgent need to address water scarcity issues. Climate change has extended fire seasons in the US, leading to more frequent and intense wildfires. Despite efforts to mitigate wildfire risks, climate change remains a pressing concern. Food waste is a growing problem, with the US wasting a significant portion of its food supply. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and water waste, while millions of Americans continue to face food insecurity. Plastic pollution is another critical environmental issue in the US, the country generates the highest amount of plastic waste globally. Inadequate recycling infrastructure leads to environmental leakage; plastic bans and extended producer responsibility laws are being implemented to address this problem. In order to maintain the environment, ensure public health, and lessen the effects of climate change, these environmental concerns demand comprehensive solutions and coordinated efforts from several stakeholders. 

Climate Justice

AOC hopes to solve these issues of environmental justice and prevent the unfair burden of climate change from falling on already marginalised groups by promoting climate policies. She believes that although climate change has a detrimental effect on everyone, less privileged sectors of society are facing stronger consequences. The US Environmental Protection Agency has found that people with low incomes are 25% more likely to reside in regions with significant labour-hour losses as a result of 2°C global warming. Additionally, there is a 15% greater likelihood for socially vulnerable populations to reside in places affected by sea level rise, increased diagnoses of childhood asthma, and climate-driven air pollution. Likewise, the hazards to socially vulnerable populations are typically expected to remain roughly the same or increase as sea levels rise and global warming worsens. 

Social Justice

Social Justice has held the spotlight on AOC’s political identity. She has consistently advocated for an American society in which no one should be too poor to live. Justice in terms of how resources, opportunities, and advantages are shared among members of a society is very present in AOC’s battle against the environmental problems her country faces. The congresswoman believes that in order to address the issue of climate, the most vulnerable communities should be met with the advocacy needed to shield and improve them. 

Ocasio-Cortez has been a highly active sponsor of legislation in the 116th Congress. She had already sponsored 11 measures in the House by the year 2020, which amply demonstrates the range of political topics she had become involved with. We may single out the environment as being her top concern, along with housing, a just society, economic injustice, immigration, healthcare, and criminal justice reform. Ocasio-Cortez seeks to address issues like economic inequality and racial injustice by giving priority to historically marginalised communities, such as minority groups in terms of race, ability differences, or class.

Grassroots Movements

The importance AOC places on community organisation and grassroots engagement is one significant component of her political philosophy. Grassroots campaigns are a fundamental strategy that adheres to the fundamentals, raising awareness of the issues that your organisation champions and clearly articulating your primary objective. Grassroots support can be obtained in many different ways, including petitions, calls to action, volunteer opportunities, events, and donation options. Ocasio-Cortez held more than 280 campaign events in the year prior to her primary victory, in addition to debates and town hall meetings. The eastern Bronx and a portion of north-central Queens are included in the 14th Congressional District of New York, in which events were organised by over 1,000 volunteers. AOC has engaged her supporters and included them in the political process by using her activism platform. Ocasio-Cortez has called for a more participatory democracy that incorporates a variety of views and viewpoints because she believes that collective action has the capacity to bring about genuine change. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been a keen advocate for climate change policy since the beginning of her political career. As a democratic socialist representing New York’s 14th District, the communities AOC caters to as a policy-maker make it essential for her to address climate justice and do so in a progressive and left-leaning manner.

IExRAIA Summer Research Program:

This article is an excerpt from a report on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez produced as part of a research program RAIA on climate leaders. For a full picture of AOC’s climate leadership read the full report. This project was fully financed by IE University’s School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs.

Authors: Maria Romero & Felipa Eichel

Editor: David Salinger

Project Lead: Joshua Dario Hasenstab


The shared Account of RAIA members and Alumni