This is an old revision of the document!
The Plan for a Green New Deal (and the draft legislation) shall be developed in order to achieve the following goals, in each case in no longer than 10 years from the start of execution of the Plan:
In furtherance of the foregoing, the Plan (and the draft legislation) shall:
The Plan for a Green New Deal (and the draft legislation) shall recognize that innovative public and other financing structures are a crucial component in achieving and furthering the goals and guidelines relating to social, economic, racial, regional and gender-based justice and equality and cooperative and public ownership set forth in paragraphs (2)(A)(i) and (6)(B). The Plan (and the draft legislation) shall, accordingly, ensure that the majority of financing of the Plan shall be accomplished by the federal government, using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks, public venture funds and such other vehicles or structures that the select committee deems appropriate, in order to ensure that interest and other investment returns generated from public investments made in connection with the Plan will be returned to the treasury, reduce taxpayer burden and allow for more investment.”
By Sean McElwee et al.
“Accomplishing a Green New Deal requires millions of new living- wage jobs that provide dignity to families and renew our vision of America in the 21st century. It will grow the economy and revive our belief in a good American job. The goal is to create 10 million new jobs over the first 10 years through employment and training programs associated with Green New Deal grants and projects.”
“A Green New Deal will produce immense demand for new goods and services that the private sector can provide. … A Green New Deal creates signals that encourages private capital to move into these new and expanding markets, and new businesses will generate demand for more workers.”
CLEAN & RENEWABLE ENERGY
✔ 100% Clean and Renewable Electricity by 2035
All electricity consumed in America must be generated by renewable sources, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, sustainable biomass, and renewable natural gas, as well as clean sources such as nuclear and remaining fossil fuel with carbon capture.
✔ Zero Net Emissions from Energy by 2050
We must end all emissions from fossil fuels. The full U.S. economy can and must run on a mix of energy that is either zero-emission or 100 percent carbon capture by mid-century. This includes residential, commercial, and industrial electricity; thermal energy; and transportation.
✔ 100% Net-Zero Building Energy Standards by 2030
Buildings can stand and operate for over 100 years, and current building standards are not in line with goals for deep decarbonization. Yet buildings also have the highest potential for low-cost emission reductions of all sectors. We must start constructing and retrofitting to the highest performance standards now to avoid locking in outdated technology and to reach these goals by mid-century. New technological innovation every year will push the potential of building and industrial efficiency, helping American citizens and businesses lower energy costs and be more competitive.
✔ 100% Zero Emission Passenger Vehicles by 2030
The technologies already exist; we only need to scale-up charging infrastructure and consumer incentives to transition 100 percent of sales to zero emission passenger and light duty vehicles by 2030, followed with a swift phase out of internal combustion engines.
✔ 100% Fossil-Free Transportation by 2050
To reach decarbonization goals, we must transition away quickly from the use of fossil fuels in aviation, heavy duty vehicles, and rail. Not everything can be electrified, meaning we must innovate and scale up the next generation of biofuels and carbon-neutral fuels.
CLEAN AIR, CLEAN WATER, RESTORE LANDSCAPE, ZERO WASTE, URBAN RESILIENCE …
(Defeated in November 2018 Referendum)
A “Yes” vote supported the initiative to do the following:
Interview with Daniel Aldana-Cohen The Real News 3/1/19
Explains why the Green New Deal must harness and expand the power of the public sector, and why its proponents cannot cut deals with the fossil fuel industry.
By Ted Franklin - East Bay DSA
Ted prepared this study guide for the Ecosocialist Reading Group of East Bay Democratic Socialists of America. These are some of the key readings for anyone who wants to understand the ecoleft's take on the Green New Deal.
By Saurav Sarkar Labor Notes March 2019
By Daniel Aldana Cohen Jacobin 2/8/19
Median incomes have stagnated since 2000. But in that same period, a foreclosure boom has shredded millions of families’ savings, and average urban rental costs have increased by 50 percent. A Green New Deal can’t deliver economic justice or solidify mass support without tackling housing head-on.
The best way for a Green New Deal to expand, decarbonize, and guarantee housing is to build ten million new, public, no-carbon homes in ten years. And again. And again. And again.
And no, ten million isn’t a crazy number. The United States is already building well over one million housing units a year. And still the system is broken. A housing guarantee belongs at the core of a Green New Deal for three simple reasons. First, exploding costs have made the housing crisis as big a threat to basic well-being as low wages and under- and unemployment. Second, millions and millions of people will need new homes as extreme weather makes swathes of the country unlivable. And third, building a ton of new housing to low-carbon standards can be a massive lever for decarbonizing the building sector, which is responsible for 39 percent of US energy consumption.
Audio podcast with Doug Henwood 2/14/19
Thea is co-chair of Providence, RI DSA and teaches at Providence College
By Kate Aronoff The Intercept 2/11/19
It’s the spring of 2043, and Gina is graduating college with the rest of her class. She had a relatively stable childhood. Her parents availed themselves of some of the year of paid family leave they were entitled to, and after that she was dropped off at a free child care program….
Now that she’s graduated, it’s time to think about what to do with her life. Without student debt, the options are broad. She also won’t have to worry about health insurance costs, since everyone is now eligible for Medicare. Like most people, she isn’t extraordinarily wealthy, so she can live in public, rent-controlled housing — not in the underfunded, neglected units we’re accustomed to seeing in the United States, but in one of any number of buildings that the country’s top architects have competed for the privilege to design, featuring lush green spaces, child care centers, and even bars and restaurants. Utilities won’t be an issue, either. Broadband and clean water are both free and publicly provisioned, and the solar array that is spread atop the roofs of her housing complex generates all the power it needs and more.
By Jeremy Brecher and Joe Uehlein Labor Network for Sustainability 1/31/19
Labor should demand that any Green New Deal:
By Brian Ward Socialist Worker 1/30/19
Native struggles against pipelines that invoke Indigenous land rights are a lynchpin in fighting the extractive industry. Pipelines and extraction are the new faces of the same problem of settler-colonialism and capitalist expansion. Building a multiracial solidarity-based grassroots movement with the social power of Indigenous peoples and workers will be the only way we can win a Green New Deal.
By Climate Justice Alliance 12/10/18
The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) … believes that in order to effectively confront the climate crisis, we must transition our priorities from global systems of production and consumption that are energy intensive and fossil fuel dependent to more localized systems that are sustainable, resilient, and regenerative.
The transition itself, however, must be just….
The Green New Deal is the first time in many years that a proposal of this type has been presented by a number of members of a major U.S. political party. It proposes to tackle climate change and inequality simultaneously, while revolutionizing conditions for workers. It is a much needed aggressive national pivot away from climate denialism to climate action with large scale federal legislative and budgetary implications….
The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) has been organizing a Just Transition toward a regenerative economy for years and therefore presently supports the call for a new economic plan for the U.S. which could come from a Green New Deal. This GND must be innovative, bold, audacious and still be just—for example, creating meaningful, family and community supporting work for the 6.4 million workers currently employed in the energy sector, alongside workers in related fields such as construction and housing, food and farming, waste management, transportation, water and ecosystem stewardship.(2) Simultaneously, this transition must be just for communities that live on the frontlines of extractive and toxic, polluting industries, and who have been putting forth local solutions that can be scaled for the benefit of a new economy for all.
Support for the initiative is growing among members of the U.S. House of Representatives. However, signing on to the project will require elected representatives to think outside of the normally accepted economic, social, industrial, and commercial parameters. If the midterm election has demonstrated anything, it is that grassroots organizing is at the root of successful policy initiatives and there is still much to learn from local and municipal power-building strategies. For Indigenous-Native grassroots members of CJA, it is the strengthening of community-based and tribal leadership, and Indigenous, place-based strategies, that are critical for the foundations of such a large-scale initiative. CJA welcomes the GND as an opportunity to work creatively with many sectors and communities within CJA that have been transitioning to a regenerative economy using community-led strategies such as zero-waste, sustainable agriculture, energy democracy, land and water stewardship, affordable housing, and localized clean energy. All of which work to center the creation of local jobs and support for the families of workers and communities most impacted….
By Media Benjamin and Alice Slater CommonDreams 12/12/18 https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/12/12/why-green-new-deal-advocates-must-address-militarism?amp
If climate change is not addressed rapidly by a Green New Deal, global militarism will ramp up in response to increases in climate refugees and civil destabilization, which will feed climate change and seal a vicious cycle fed by the twin evils militarism and climate disruption. That’s why a New Peace Deal and a Green New Deal should go hand in hand. We cannot afford to waste our time, resources and intellectual capital on weapons and war when climate change is barreling down on all of humankind. If the nuclear weapons don’t destroy us than the pressing urgency of catastrophic climate will.
Detroit DSA Medium 1/5/18
Statement of Metro Detroit DSA on GM’s announced closure of the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly (Poletown) plant
As democratic socialists, we believe that the Poletown plant rightfully belongs not to GM but to the workers who labored within it for generations and the taxpayers who bailed it out. Indeed, the workers who staged the successful sit-down strike at GM’s factories in 1936 also believed that the plants belonged to them and their families. They harnessed that conviction to achieve successes for labor — at the height of the Great Depression — that would be almost unthinkable today. In resisting GM’s latest assault on workers, the UAW should aspire to this same level of militancy, staging walkouts, slowdowns, and plant occupations to galvanize the rank and file, and draw public attention to their struggle….
The last thing Detroiters need is another rotting hulk in the middle of our city. We must convert the Poletown plant into a publicly-owned green energy hub, and put our citizens to work making the products and infrastructure we need to survive as a species. Wind turbines; solar panels; electric cars, buses, and batteries; high-speed rail cars are all possibilities. During World War II, car factories were retooled in a matter of months to support the war effort. This is the scale of ambition we need today if we are going to avert climate catastrophe and rehabilitate the economies of the Rust Belt. Let’s start that green revolution here in Detroit. That would be a real comeback for the city.
By Gabriel Pierre Antoine Red Compass 1/8/19
Our rulers have proven themselves completely unable to lessen, let alone confront, the climate crisis. We march seemingly inexorably toward a future of runaway warming and all its attendant consequences. The Green New Deal’s reforms – state-driven employment, economic renewal in marginalized and deindustrialized communities, and involving the labor movement in worker training and deployment – would all raise the working class’s self-confidence and living standards while challenging the ruling class’s control over the transition. Extractive capital and its representatives know this, and power concedes nothing without a fight.
But parliamentary maneuvers to bury a committee don’t make the climate crisis less urgent, nor do they mean this kind of large scale reform can’t be won. However, it forces us to deepen the struggle for extending democracy as the means to win the nationally and globally coordinated action that is needed. We can only push past the limits imposed in the ‘world’s greatest democracy’ to the extent that we recognize what they are.
This includes moving past the ‘pressure politics’ outlook of groups like Justice Democrats, who Ocasio-Cortez works closely with. Supporters of Justice Democrats, whose “mission is to elect a new kind of Democratic majority in Congress,” were rightfully clear in their condemnation of the House Democrats’ betrayal. But you can’t primary every Democrat, on a terrain where ruling class donors, the privately-owned mass media, and leveraging the party machine guarantee positive results overall for the ‘corporate wing.’ Whether in Congress or in state governments, left-leaning or left-wing Democrats must eventually choose between being either co-opted or sidelined. (In any case, we need more control over our elected officials than the threat of a primary challenge once every few years!)
By Richard Smith System Change Not Climate Change
AOCs’ Plan is first of all, a definitive break with the Reagan-Thatcher-Friedman “capitalism good, government bad” doctrine which holds that the best role for government is to “get out of the way and just incentivize the private sector.” Instead, the Plan calls for robust expansive government to drive the needed changes, for two reasons: (1) scale and (2) time: First, “The level of investment required will be massive. Even if all the billionaires and companies came together and were willing to pour all the resources at their disposal into this investment, the aggregate value of the investments they could make would not be sufficient.” Besides, “private companies are wary of making massive investments in unproven research and technologies; the government, however, has the time horizon to be able to patiently make investments in new tech and R&D, without necessarily having a commercial outcome or application in mind at the time of the investment.” Second: “The speed of investment required will be massive. Even if all the billionaires and companies could make the investments required, they would not be able to pull together a coordinated response in the narrow window of time require to jump-start major new projects and major new sectors.
AOC explicitly rejects the Reaganite idolatry of the private sector with its concomitant reliance on coaxing capitalists with incentives: “We’ve also seen that merely incentivizing the private sector doesn’t work – e.g. the tax incentives and subsidies given to wind and solar projects have been a valuable spur to growth in the US renewables industry but, even with such investment-promotion subsidies, the present level of such projects is simply inadequate to transition to a fully carbon neutral economy as quickly as needed. . . we’re not saying there isn’t a role for private sector investments; we’re just saying that the level of investment required will need every actor to pitch in and that the government is best placed to be the prime mover….
Of course all this sounds wildly utopian at the moment and this Plan is certain to go nowhere under Trump and the Republican Senate. But a vigorous campaign for this Plan could change the conversation from false “market solutions” to restoring the idea of government intervention, government planning, and popular democracy as central to the success of the fight against global warming. After all, polls have long shown that citizens want and expect the government to lead the fight against climate change by limiting CO2 emissions, in effect to “do what the science demands before it’s too late.” Let’s hope that with a developing vision and a monumental mobilization around this Green New Deal and around fossil fuel nationalization, we can derail the capitalist drive to ecological collapse and build an ecosocialist civilization to save the human race.
By Matt Huber Verso Blog 11/19/18
Demands centering on the need for a “Green New Deal”, focused on the creation of a public works “green jobs” infrastructure policy, have helped energise the American left in recent weeks. In this article Matt Huber offers four vital lessons from the original New Deal that contemporary activists and policymakers must learn:
Listen to a podcast interview with Matt Huber (Cultures of Energy, 1/17/19)
By Robert Pollin New Left Review 112 Jul-Aug 2018
The core feature of the Green New Deal needs to be a worldwide programme to invest between 1.5 and 2 per cent of global GDP every year to raise energy-efficiency standards and expand clean renewable-energy supplies. Through this investment programme, it becomes realistic to drive down global CO2 emissions relative to today by 40 per cent within twenty years, while also supporting rising living standards and expanding job opportunities. CO2 emissions could be eliminated altogether in forty to fifty years through continuing this clean-energy investment project at roughly the same rate of about 1.5–2 per cent of global GDP per year. It is critical to recognize that, within this framework, a higher economic-growth rate will also accelerate the rate at which clean energy supplants fossil fuels, since higher levels of GDP will correspondingly mean a higher level of investment being channeled into clean-energy projects. [See also this critique of Pollin.]
By George Lakey Yes 1/28/19
Here’s the vision: a nation of 100 percent clean energy, a just transition to a more democratic economy, and massive public sector investments. Much as green jobs are needed, the vision goes further to include a web of economic policies, such as free higher education, that make possible the huge changes needed to make our country both sustainable and fair.
This combination, broad and inclusive, sets it apart from the ineffective strategy of single-issue environmentalists who keep expecting that fear of climate change is going to force an end to fossil fuel emissions. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Just as holistic health has taught us the value of a bigger view of human well-being, so also a big-picture strategy for our very complex society can energize us….
Sunrise spokesperson Stephen O’Hanlon says the movement understands that the Green New Deal depends on a major groundswell of pressure through action at the grassroots. That’s where nonviolent direct action campaigning comes in. Study groups and training workshops are now spontaneously forming around the country that explore this type of campaigning to overcome roadblocks erected by those in power invested in preserving the status quo. Both new and veteran activists are studying the lessons from successful campaigns stretching back a century—especially the those that apply to this political moment of polarization and rising turbulence and violence.
By Jackson Koeppel et al. In These Times 1/31/19
While the Green New Deal should encompass a massive range of initiatives, a cornerstone must be a program to free communities from the unjust power of investor-owned utilities—not only for de-carbonization, but in order to transform our economy so it serves everyone. Modeled after the original New Deal’s Rural Electrification Administration, such a program could give communities the much-needed finance and capacity to kick out their investor-owned utilities in favor of community-run, renewable-powered utilities.
“The short answer to ‘how we will pay for’ the Green New Deal is easy. We’ll pay for it just as we pay for all else: Congress will authorize necessary spending, and Treasury will spend. This is how we do it – always has been, always will be. The money that’s spent, for its part, is never ‘raised’ first. To the contrary, federal spending is what brings that money into existence….” (A primer in Modern Monetary Theory follows, although the author doesn't mention MMT explicitly.)
By Greta Thunberg Common Dreams 1/25/19
“Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don't. That is as black or white as it gets. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.”
Interview with Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement Democracy Now! 1/7/18
We were very glad to see that Nancy Pelosi mentioned the climate crisis in her address, but calling it a crisis and an existential threat and treating it like one are two very different things. So, essentially, Nancy Pelosi is reviving a 10-year-old committee, the Select Committee for the Climate Crisis, but we find that it’s actually woefully and inexcusably short—falls short of what we need in this moment in terms of climate ambition in this crucial juncture in history.
Namely, it falls short in three ways, some of which you already mentioned. It doesn’t include anything about creating a draft, sort of a blueprint, for a plan for a Green New Deal over the next year, ahead of the next presidential election. It doesn’t include any provision that actually bars people who are taking money from oil and gas executives and lobbyists, who are jeopardizing my generation’s future, from sitting on the committee, something that, frankly, we find to be a conflict of interest. And thirdly, it doesn’t include any power to subpoena, which actually renders this committee less powerful than the one we had even a decade ago.
By Peter Rugh The Indypendent 12/17/18
Democratic Party leaders have embraced a business-friendly, neoliberal approach to climate change, just as they have just about everything else. It’s a logic that says you can’t offer Americans health coverage without giving away billions to insurers through a heavily-subsidized “marketplace.” You can’t provide relief to homeowners holding underwater mortgages without first bailing out the big banks. No social progress is possible without being mediated through the market, without someone on Wall Street making a buck.
The last time the Dems controlled the House with Pelosi at the helm, they passed cap-and-trade legislation, which would have set a threshold on the amount of greenhouse gas that could be emitted nationally and established an energy market wherein players could trade pollution permits. The measure never went up for a vote in the Senate but nonetheless is indicative of the party’s general approach to climate change. It’s all gung-ho to help the planet but has to ensure that there is money in it for it for bankers and corporations first.
The trouble with market-driven approaches to social change, and with climate change in particular, is that markets, while constantly fluctuating themselves, don’t take to change all that well at all. They are sensitive beasts, prone to myopia.
The closest thing to a large-scale state investment in climate adaptation and prevention the Democrats have mustered came in the form of President Obama’s 2009 post-bailout stimulus package. Billions in tax credits and subsidized loans were provided to green entrepreneurs. The stimulus helped the renewable energy industry scale up and become price competitive with fossil fuels. From 2009 to 2017, the cost of solar in North America fell from over $350 to $50 per megawatt hour, according to the Lazard investment bank while the cost of coal hovered around $100 per megawatt hour. But the next investment in a green economy will have to be in the trillions, not billions, and speed is of the essence.
By Ted Franklin System Change Not Climate Change 12/6/18
Every once in a while, an idea that has been blowing in the wind for years catches fire and starts a conversation that might change the world. It’s happening now with the “Green New Deal,” an elastic slogan that has become the rallying cry of climate activists who are targeting 2020 as the year Americans might embrace a plan for massive transformation of the economy to avert climate disaster, combat inequality, promote social justice, and lay the groundwork for a more just and peaceful world….
The quasi-magical arrival of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on the political scene has given climate activists new hope that a program big enough to address the danger will become an actual subject of national debate in the time frame necessary to give us a fighting chance against climate catastrophe. Her proposal for a Select Committee for a Green New Deal (an essential and brief read, so go back and click on the hyperlink if you haven’t already read it) is gaining momentum as the highly energized progressive base of the Democratic Party confronts the triple obstacles of the Republican neofascist party, the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party, and the establishment progressives who are now running to the left but still beholden to corporate interests.
The young people of the Sunrise Movement are prepared to be disruptive in the tradition of the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Vietnam War activists, and ACT-UP. They are asking, “What is your plan?” and they are not interested in answers that evade the massive shake-up the scientists say is necessary….
The Ecoleft—from ecological socialists to frontline climate and environmental justice warriors—has an unprecedented opportunity to lead in this debate because we actually have ideas big enough to address the root cause of climate change and its connection to many other growing crises in Earth’s life systems including loss of biodiversity, acidification of the oceans, and vanishing forests. We also have ideas big enough to provide a framework for liberating society from capitalism’s insane drive to push nature and millions upon millions of human beings into an abyss. Along with the Sunrise Movement, we get to ask apologists for the capitalist system, “What is your plan?” and measure their answers against what science tells us must be done….
On December 3, Senator Sanders was joined by actress and activist Shailene Woodley, author and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben, CNN host and author Van Jones, Union of Concerned Scientists Director of Climate Science Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Scientific Director and CEO of Ecologic Institute Dr. Camilla Bausch, and Dale Ross, mayor of Georgetown, Texas.
By Kate Aronoff The Intercept 12/5/18
By Nathan J. Robinson Current Affairs 10/30/18
“The most serious place to start, as far as I can tell, is with the various “Green New Deal” proposals. I am not wild about that name, in part because I don’t like “green” branding generally and in part because I think it sounds more like a jobs program than a climate change plan (and while jobs programs are good, I think we need to be up front about the fact that we are trying to stop warming, not just employ people in environmentally-friendly ways). These are minor criticisms, though. If it’s what we’ve got, it’s what we’ve got….
“The most serious existing plan, as far as I can tell, is the Data for Progress proposal authored by Greg Carlock, Emily Mangan, and Sean McElwee. Despite calling itself a “greenprint” (must we?), it’s a thorough plan for transitioning to a low-carbon, sustainable economy….
“Everyone should read it, and then adopting the plan should be a “litmus test” for candidates. As far as I can tell, this piece of the left’s agenda has still been missing; I don’t think the DSA, for example, has a climate plan in the same way they have a healthcare plan. (I apologize if I’ve overlooked it.) It is difficult to fix climate change, obviously, but it’s not difficult to fix the lack of an agenda for fixing climate change. That’s long overdue, and serious leftists should refine a plan, give it a catchy name (Green New Deal or otherwise), and then never, ever shut up about it, which is the only way you get things done politically….”
E&E News 11/27/18
A policy group is being formed to support an energized progressive movement that's taken Capitol Hill by storm under the leadership of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). It's called the New Consensus. The 501c(3) nonprofit is in the process of being formed to provide a policy platform that will underpin the ambitious — and increasingly politically popular — Green New Deal aimed at weaning the United States off fossil fuels, boosting renewables and clean energy jobs, and building a “smart” grid.
Front and center will be Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a 29-year-old Yale graduate and Rhodes scholar who will serve as the group's policy director working to flesh out details of the plan. …
By Greg Carlock and Sean McElwee The Nation 9/18/18
Grist/Huffington Post 6/30/18
“The man who popularized the phrase that left-leaning Democrats now use to describe a vision for a radical government spending plan to combat climate change is a self-described centrist 'free-market guy' with a New York Times column.
“It was Thomas Friedman who in 2007 started calling for a “Green New Deal” to end fossil fuel subsidies, tax carbon dioxide emissions, and create lasting incentives for wind and solar energy. At the dawn of the global financial crisis, the “New Deal” concept that Franklin D. Roosevelt coined 76 years earlier to describe the labor reforms and historic spending on infrastructure and armaments that pulled the United States out of the Great Depression proved attractive….
“Friedman’s version focused on policies that compelled the “big players to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.” He liked a lot of what Obama enacted — including $51 billion in “green stimulus” and a $2.3 billion tax credit to clean energy manufacturing — even after the administration shelved the Green New Deal rhetoric after the midterm election….
“'The more the market does on its own, the more sustainable it is,' he said. Even as the Trump administration dismantles Obama’s climate legacy, Friedman feels the battle shouldn’t be for more aggressive government intervention to wean the economy off fossil fuels, but on messaging that focuses on the patriotic, nation-building aspects of greening the economy.
“'We are the true patriots on this,” said Friedman. 'We’re talking about American economic power, American moral power, American geopolitical power. Green is geostrategic, geoeconomic, patriotic, capitalistic.'…”
“The 2018 version [of a Green New Deal] promoted by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others tilts left of center, with a stronger emphasis on equity, employment and wage issues. But at its heart the Green New Deal is first and foremost about the end of the month as well as the end of the world….
“The climate movement, because of its roots in environmentalism, with its skepticism about 'growthmania,'' has had a hard time consistently embracing and implementing climate solutions as steps towards equity and prosperity. But the fires around the Arc de Triomphe should remind us that if we want entire societies to decarbonize, we have to bring entire societies into the economic future as well.”
By Jessica Corbett CommonDreams.org 12/17/18
By Lisi Krall Green Social Thought 1/30/19
While many of the potential policies being discussed, including a more steeply progressive income tax, would in themselves be positive developments, none of them would reduce greenhouse emissions as deeply as is required. To understand why, we should first look back at the economic foundations of the Depression-era New Deal, which is serving as inspiration for the Green New Deal (GND)….
Nowhere in the landscape of the New Deal was there any recognition that there were problems with growth itself or fossil fuel use. As Stan Cox wrote, “As far as I know, no one complained at the time about the 65 percent increase in fossil fuel consumption that occurred between 1935 and 1945 thanks to a growing economy.” This was because the danger of running up against future biophysical limits was not recognized….
The challenge for the GND is to be revolutionary in the face of climate change. It seems clear we can’t solve the contradictions of capital with the same institutional baggage. Assuring some measure of equality in the face of reduced energy will require limits. The build-up for WWII provides a precedent for our capacity to impose collective limits when we have to do so. Collective limits are managed fairly only when reinforced and fortified with expansive social welfare institutions.
But we also need institutions that orbit around limits and not around growth and stagnation. The quick and decisive transition to renewable energy, orchestrated with strict limits, a commitment to equity, and rationing of both production and consumption will help us to begin this revolutionary transition recognizing that the 21st century problems of capitalism are unique.
By Ben Ehrenreich The Nation 1/15/19
Politicians are not often good at thinking in planetary terms. The system in which they function—national governments and international institutions alike—evolved alongside the carbon economy and has for decades functioned mainly to serve it. However enlightened their representatives may appear at climate talks, wealthy countries continue to subsidize fossil fuel extraction—last year to the tune of $147 billion. In the United States, Trumpian climate denialism and Pelosian tepidity are two faces of the same phenomenon. Congressman Frank Pallone, who chairs the toothless committee that Pelosi resurrected to tackle climate change, announced that he plans to propose nothing more than “some oversight” of Trump’s assaults on preexisting federal programs, and that requiring committee members to reject donations from fossil fuel industries would be “too limiting.”
Centrists continue to reassure, unshaken in the conviction that no problem exists that cannot be solved with a little technocratic fiddling. Just before he left office, Barack Obama penned an article in Science, contending that climate change “mitigation need not conflict with economic growth.” Wealthy countries, the argument goes, have already managed to reduce emissions without sacrificing growth. “Decoupling” is the magic word here. Imagine a gentle, Gwyneth Paltrowesque divorce between fossil fuels and capital, followed by a fresh romance with greener tech, perhaps a few extra therapy bills for the kids.
But someone always gets hurt in a break-up. The techno-optimist dream holds together only if you hide the fact that much of the progress made by the United States and Europe came at the expense of poorer countries: as corporations off-shored manufacturing jobs over the last few decades, they sent the carbon-intensive industries with them, allowing Western consumers, at the clean end of a very dirty process, to import massive quantities of goods….
By Lydia DePillis CNN Business 2/14/19
The American business community really wants a large federal infrastructure package. It wants to shore up transportation systems, generate business through government contracts, and create new opportunities for investors to make a return. But not this infrastructure package….
By Adam Dean Medium 1/4/19
The problem of the Green New Deal is not only its omission of real costs. Its root problem is that it is designed to maintain our over-consumption of energy. Growth is our problem. It cannot be our solution. Pandering to a mass addiction for more energy under the renewable name is political theater. It’s not just that we can’t achieve the ambitious promise of the Green New Deal, but to try is to cash in what few resources we have left for our children, only to briefly extend the unreasonable energy demands that we’ve come to realize are unsustainable. The Green New Deal, in striving to fulfill its promise, means tremendous infrastructure changes that will increase our upfront carbon costs at a time when we know we must curb them aggressively. Conservation, not infrastructure expansion, is the obvious and necessary next step.
We must accept that solar, wind, hydroelectric and thermal power are lifeboat resources and just as precious and finite as fossil fuels. If we go ahead we will only fall short on the goal and re-learn what we already know: conservation is our only path. Solar arrays and wind farms of the magnitude projected in the Green New Deal will not meet demand and will permanently transform the landscape, leaving nothing for future generations except more industrial scenery and a heavy maintenance bill…
“This paper will argue that the Green New Deal, as currently articulated, is a necessary but insufficient response to our global emergency which has ecologic as well as social ramifications that are inextricable from one another, and that no plan can succeed without a well-informed account of agriculture as its cornerstone.
I would go so far as to say that better nomenclature — which would reach beyond those who see themselves as “green” — an Agrarian New Deal. Then the same farmers who turn their faces away from “greens” will turn around to look when they see that word. It reminds us that water and agriculture are where we begin to make the most basic changes, or every other attempt will fail. It tells those farmers that you recognize the crucial role they play, and then you can tell them: if we do this a new way, the first step, before anything else, is subsidizing a decent standard of living for those agrarians who will carry out the changes.”
“Water and food are prior to electricity; and yet the Green New Deal — which emphasizes conversion of energy sources to the complete exclusion of conservation (including rationing), with no acknowledgement of the physical limits to “growth” that are imposed by natural laws which already tell us that conversion is the icing, and conservation is the cake. Likewise, there is little acknowledgment by the mostly urban, white-collar, or academic activists and mavens of the centrality of agriculture for any worthwhile analysis or synthesis.
“Among agricultural considerations is the fact that more than a third of all carbon emissions are from agricultural activity. And while most sectors in the US economy suffer less than 40 percent corporate concentration (ownership and control belong to absentee corporations), agriculture in the US is closer to 70 percent control by big absentee corporations.”
Facing Up to the Failures of Profit-Driven Climate Policy, by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy 12/31/18
The market-focused approach to climate protection has failed spectacularly. Using “sticks and carrots” policies aimed at the private sector, governments anticipated a surge of new “green growth” investment that would create millions of good jobs. This did not happen. It is now absolutely clear that climate policy must shift in a radically different direction, and unions can help ensure that such a shift occurs as soon as possible.
Growing numbers of unions are already calling for a decisive shift away from policies that push privatization – including predatory “public private partnerships” (P3s) – and that are designed to please private investors who deliver too little and take too much.
Unions are increasingly rallying behind the idea of a needs-based, “public goods” approach to climate protection – one that is grounded in extending public ownership and democratic control. Such an approach will give us a real chance to reach the Paris targets, and to advance the struggle for political and economic democracy, equality and decent work. This is the only way to achieve a just transition for all.
By Eric Levitz New York 12/13/18
To the median Democrat, a Green New Deal is just a fancy name for an infrastructure bill that includes significant investments in renewable energy, and climate resiliency. To the progressive think tank Data for Progress, it’s a comprehensive plan for America to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, through a combination of massive public investment in renewables, smart grids, battery technology, and resiliency; turbocharged environmental regulations; and policies that promote urbanization, reforestation, wetland restoration, and soil sustainability — all designed with an eye toward achieving full employment, and advancing racial justice.
But to the American left’s most utopian reformists, the Green New Deal is shorthand for an ambition even more sweeping. More precisely, it is a means of conveying their vision for radical change to a popular audience, by way of analogy [with World War II].
[However, in contrast to the World War II emergency,] climate change poses less of an immediate threat to America’s contemporary economic elites than the Green New Deal does. The Koch Network fears the euthanasia of the fossil fuel industry — and confiscatory top tax rates — a lot more than rising sea levels. Thus, corporate resistance to World War II–esque state-led mobilization to combat climate change (let alone, an avowedly socialist one) is certain to be immense. And given the conservative movement’s tightening grip over the federal judiciary, and red America’s increasingly disproportionate influence over state governments and the Senate, Green New Dealers would need to defeat near-unanimous corporate opposition on a playing field sharply tilted to their rivals’ advantage. …
If persuading a couple dozen Democrats to support a select committee to draft a Green New Deal (which many of them understand as a little more than a climate-centric infrastructure stimulus) took repeatedly occupying Nancy Pelosi’s office, what will it take to institutionalize 100 percent renewable social democracy atop the ruins of the fossil fuel industry?
By Jonathan Neale Socialist Worker 12/14/18
It’s not just that carbon taxes are unfair. After all, many climate activists say that if it’s unfair and it still stops climate change, then it’s worth it. There’s something to be said for that point of view. After all, ordinary people are going to pay a lot more for the effects of climate change than we will ever pay in carbon taxes.
But the real kicker is the political effect of the unfairness. It opens a window for the right wing — the climate deniers and the oil and coal companies. They can build a coalition between themselves, those who want no climate action, and large numbers of ordinary people who feel cheated by affluent greens. That coalition can be devastating because the environmentalists are hit from two sides….
THE CLIMATE jobs campaigns I have been involved with have faced a parallel problem. In Britain, we built a campaign with a lot of union support for a government program for a million new permanent climate jobs, most of them in renewable energy, public transport and building conversion.
At first, our campaign was split over whether these should be all public-sector jobs. Many of the environmentalists who were involved were sympathetic to small business or to cooperatives.
But one thing swung us toward public-sector jobs. We knew we had to guarantee that if anyone lost their job in an old high-carbon industry, they would be guaranteed retraining and a new permanent climate job. If we said private companies would deliver that, everyone would know that was a lie.
We want that job guarantee because those oil-tanker drivers and natural-gas workers should not be punished. They built our economy. But not just because it’s right. If we don’t do that, we will divide the union movement, divide the working class and divide the electorate.
By Max Ajl Brooklyn Rail 11/1/18
So whence the notion of a Green New Deal? It often seems to be of a piece with the current definitional dilution “socialism” is facing, as Ted Kennedy-type liberals like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez redefine the word to fit snugly along the left edge of the Democratic Party agenda. In this sense, the Green New Deal can often be a historical-analogical shoehorn to fit our moment back into the comforting clasp of the Fordist comfort zone, maybe a few degrees left vis-à-vis social distribution—Norway plus solar panels.
We ought also not forget that the original New Deal was social containment to avoid a world transformed. The dominant discourse also forgets the New Deal was only in the United States, and it took a World War and global decolonization to even begin to address the more widespread human consequences of colonialism, a condition which, after all, affected most of humanity, especially those lands now slated to suffer most under global warming. In taking stock of the climate crisis, then, we need to be honest enough to state that the notion of a GND hearkens back to the state social-engineering edifice of New Deal economic planning, seasoned heavily enough with nostalgia to make us forget that the New Deal did not do what it is represented as having done in popular memory….
My concern is that in the wrong hands, [the GND] could easily become something closer to a marketing device than an accurate cartography of our current moment, which must necessarily offer a strategically useful contour map of a very uneven world. Such a set-up might easily be imagined, or might easily be repurposed, into a transmogrification of Elysium: green social democracy at home and militarized maritime and terrestrial borders, and beyond them, resource extraction for domestic clean-tech. …
The GND, because it is fundamentally about a rejiggering of global energy use and a low-key jobs program, fails to address far too many questions. Where are we supposed to get food, when entire patterns of urbanization have been built on dollar-cheap food lubricated by dollar-cheap energy? Will we keep using hydrocarbon-based fertilizers to plant corn, which anyway might be devastated by the next blight to which Monsanto’s monocultures are uniquely vulnerable? Where will we get new genetic stock? Is that simply the job of hard-working peasants on the Mexican milpa? Do we bear any substantive burden for the transition? Why does scarcely anyone talk about this?…
Moving from North to South, I wonder what happens when we stop talking about the Green New Deal, or even some eco-socialist models which effectively mimic the muteness of the GNC on questions of sovereignty and agriculture, and talk instead about something knottier but better, because it is big enough for everyone. What if we replace, or minimally complement, talk of a GND with something like (although by all means let us find a more felicitous phrase) a green consummation of national liberation? …
By Dan La Botz Socialist Forum Fall 2018
When asked to define “political revolution” and “democratic socialism,” Sanders repeatedly answered that he meant something like an updated version of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. And following her surprising and spectacular Democratic primary victory over Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District (Queens-Bronx), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told morning talk shows the same thing Sanders had, that Roosevelt’s New Deal represented the kind of political revolution for which she stood.
Sanders tapped into this old idea that Roosevelt saved the country, suggesting that he could do likewise with similar programs. But did Roosevelt’s New Deal save the American people? American historians tell us that FDR’s New Deal actually failed and that the depression returned with a vengeance as unemployment rose again to 19% in 1938. In fact, the Great Depression only began to end when war production to support England began in 1939, and the country’s economy only fully revived with America’s entry into World War II….
As Thomas Ferguson has argued, Roosevelt’s administration was based on a constellation of financiers and industrialists as well as the new assemblage of ethnic voters. In fact, Ferguson argues, it was a particular section of the capitalist class that was the most important factor in that coalition: the heads of capital-intensive and internationally-oriented industries. Though labor was tremendously important, it was this group of capitalists that provided the power, influence, and money that came to constitute the core of the party and made FDR’s four successive presidential victories possible, Ferguson argues….
Some on the left have argued that the New Deal coalition constituted a sort of de-facto labor party, but this was not the case. The New Deal coalition was made up of capitalist corporations, racist southern Democrats, big-city machines, labor unions, and black voters (where they were able to vote). The strength of the capitalist core, the southern Democrats, and the political machines explain both the New Deal’s success and its limited character.
National prosperity during the 1950s and 1960s was also based on imperialism, with hundreds of military bases around the world that protected U.S. investments and geopolitical interests in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. U.S. economic prosperity in the post-war period was owed only in part to the social programs of the New Deal and the Great Society, for America’s prosperity depended on what was called the “permanent war economy.” The New Deal and postwar orders can be defined as “social imperialism,” that is, a political economy that can offer social reforms only because it is an imperial power. U.S. domination of half the world—economic, political, and military—provided the basis for the “American dream” of a steady job, a home of one’s own in the suburbs, and the consumer paradise of home appliances, televisions, and cars….
Equating the New Deal with socialism tends to equate the victory of the Democratic Party and its candidates with the struggle for socialism, while nothing could be further from the truth. Victories by Democrats, even progressive Democrats calling for a new New Deal, strengthen the Democratic Party, not the anti-capitalist left.
While socialists should definitely support the kind of reforms that Sanders advocates, we must be honest with ourselves and with the working class and make clear that these kinds of reforms alone will not solve everyone’s problems, will not be permanent, and will not change the capitalist system….
Four decades of neoliberal economic policies have exacerbated class tensions as well as environmental destruction leaving a large ‘precariat’ that neither can, nor should, pay for environmental resolution. Given the distribution of the spoils, it is more than reasonable to force the cleanup costs on those who (1) caused the problem and (2) benefited from its creation. In this sense, a government funded program of resolution is the best the rich could hope for.
Framed as economic stimulus (a ‘New Deal’) that funds a transition to less immediately destructive economic production, any such program could be shifted toward mitigating economic calamity for hundreds of millions of people as the scale of the retrenchment needed to avoid full-on environmental crisis becomes evident. ‘Green growth’ is either cover for planned degrowth or evidence that environmental resolution has been subverted….
Most citizens want environmental resolution, economic justice and the basic services of civil society like education, health care and retirement security. The state is an available vehicle for providing these through the power of the Federal purse. Federal expenditures would mean that resources would not have to be taken from those who have them— the rich. And yet the rich and the ‘leadership’ of the American political establishment are shouting: No! to a Green New Deal. This refusal illustrates the stakes….
The American political establishment has no intention of moving a real program of environmental resolution forward. Doing so would end its hold on power. My suggestion is to organize citizen-experts to craft a program outside of official channels in anticipation of another capitalist crisis. A combination of political insistence and official incapacitation could yield the political moment needed to insert the program into the frame of the state ahead of the capitalist response.
Black Rose Anarchist Federation 1/4/19
Unlike his fellow DSA member (and Democratic politician) Ocasio-Cortez, [Richard] Smith raises a program which explicitly demands government take-overs of the fossil-fuel producing companies. (He notes, “Others have also argued for nationalization to phase-out fossil fuels.”) He also calls for the nationalization of industries which are dependent on fossil fuels: “autos, aviation, petrochemicals, plastics, construction, manufacturing, shipping, tourism, and so on.” These nationalizations would be part of a plan for phasing-out fossil fuels, phasing-in renewable energy, shutting down fossil-fuel production, shutting down or modifying industries which rely on fossil fuels, and creating large government employment programs. This means changing from an economy built on quantitative growth, accumulation, and profits, to one of “degrowth [and] substantial de-industrialization.”
This program may seem revolutionary. “It’s difficult to imagine how this could be done within the framework of any capitalism…. Our climate crisis cries out for something like an immediate transition to ecosocialism.”
Yet Smith contradicts himself; he does not present his perspective as a revolutionary program. While he proposes socialization (in the form of nationalization) of much of the corporate economy, he does not call for taking away the wealth and power of these main sectors of the capitalist class. “We do not call for expropriation. We propose a government buyout at fair value….The companies might welcome a buyout.” There will be “guaranteed state support for the investors….” Further, “it is perhaps conceivable, taking FDR’s war-emergency industrial reordering as a precedent, that the…plan…for fossil fuels buyout-nationalization…could be enacted within the framework of capitalism, though the result would be a largely state-owned economy. Roosevelt created [a] state-directed capitalism….”
While a revolutionary approach is often derided as absurdly “utopian” and fantastic, this reformist program is itself a fantasy. It imagines that the capitalist class and its bought-and-paid-for politicians—who have resisted for decades any efforts to limit global warming—would not fight tooth-and-claw against this program. They are supposed to accept the loss of their industries, their mansions, their social status, their private jets, their media, their political influence, and the rest of their domination over society—for the sake of the environment! In all probability, to prevent this, they would whip up racism, sexual hysteria, and nationalism, subsidize fascist gangs, urge a military coup, distort or try to shut down elections and outlaw oppositions. All of which has been repeatedly done in the past, and is partially being done right now (if still on a minor scale—so far)….
By David Schwartzman (DSA, Washington DC) Capitalism Nature Socialism 8/18/11
Saying or even demonstrating with great eloquence that capitalism must be replaced by socialism is the mere beginning for political intervention, not a strategy. I hope here to begin to confront this deficiency in order to reignite a discussion on socialist strategy in the 21st century. One present symptom of the lack of strategy is to summarily reject the possibility of a Green New Deal (GND) with a critique of so-called Green Capitalism (Smith, 2010). Here I will rather propose a consideration of the struggle for a GND as a nexus of class struggle with the potential of opening up a path to ecosocialist transition on a world scale.
Can we draw lessons from the experience of the success of the New Deal during the Great Depression of the 1930s as we consider ecosocialist strategy and a potential Green New Deal approach to dealing with the current economic crisis facing capitalism today?
Contrary to popular belief, FDR’s New Deal was implemented to save capitalism, and its most progressive initiatives only came as a response to fierce class struggle, including the resurgence of the industrial worker movement, which resulted in the formation of the Congress of Industrial Unions in 1936….
While the Pentagon pretends to go “green,” it remains the servant of the imperial system protecting fossil fuel and strategic metals flowing into the MIC, the Military Industrial (Fossil Fuel, Nuclear, State Terror) Complex. The immense power of the MIC is the biggest obstacle to implementing an effective prevention program that has a plausible chance of avoiding C3 [catastrophic climate change]. The avoidance of C3 requires an end to coal and fossil fuel addiction, giving up the nuclear option, and a rapid conversion to a high-efficiency solar energy infrastructure. To summarize, the MIC is at present the biggest single obstacle to preventing C3 because:
Nevertheless, what the struggle for a GND can accomplish is very significant, indeed critical to confronting the challenge of preventing C3. Humanity cannot afford to wait for socialism to replace capitalism to begin implementing this prevention program.
See also Schwartzman, 100% renewables: Wishful Thinking or an Imperative Goal? Medium, 10/24/18; and Schwartzman and Schwartzman, The Earth is Not for Sale: A Path Out of Fossil Capitalism to the Other World That is Still Possible, Chapter 7 on Degrowth and the GND.
A Conversation on Robert Pollin's New Left Review article on GND (see above) 9/22/18
M_: This essay is not without interest. But it seems that we have an economist writing from on high so to speak. NO mention of the military and the environment, agriculture and the environment, no notion of political realities today, just that if we do this and this and this, there is a viable path to stabilizing CO2 emissions at an earth sustainable level. No notion of land and income and wealth expropriation and redistribution. Not a word about tourism, automobiles, public transit in the vast western US. Just that with clean energy investments, employment will rise, making it easier for workers and peasants to get a bigger share of the pie. No notion of changing the nature of work. And many other things. He seems to be speaking ex cathedra, so to speak. Doesn't he travel around, look at reality in places large and small, in the US at least? Yes, let's put solar panels all over the deserts. But what about the desert landscape? Well. to hell with it I guess.
J: I agree with your critique, M_. I haven't completed reading the article yet, but it's very notable from the start that (with some minor caveats) Pollin takes for granted the existing ensemble of use-values that energy “production” and consumption serves. (In passing he does criticize the luxury consumption of the rich.) But no big deal, as a mix of wind, solar, geothermal, and appropriate scale hydro electricity generation, especially if coupled with energy efficiency innovations in industrial equipment, building heating/cooling, and consumer goods design, can eventually meet the high levels of energy demand required to fulfill these use-values. (And yes, Pollin focuses mostly if not exclusively on electricity generation, which is only one part of the picture, and just assumes that technological progress in electricity transmission and battery storage will allow for continuing high levels of energy consumption without relying on fossil fuels – and/or nuclear power – as a complement to clean renewable sources.) Read the rest
By Louis Proyect The Unrepentant Marxist 11/21/18
Turning to the question of the feasibility of making America Green without abolishing capitalist property relations, I want to draw an analogy with the last great revolutionary struggle in the USA, namely the Civil War.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was the leader of a bourgeois revolution which pitted the northern industrialists against another section of the bourgeoisie—the cotton plantation owners of the South who required slave labor to maintain their class domination.
Now, 158 years later, the petrochemical sector constitutes the same kind of reactionary grip on American society that will smash any challenge to its exploitation of fossil fuels and wage labor. What cotton and chattel slavery were to Lincoln’s day, carbon-based commodity production and wage slavery are to our epoch. It is not just Exxon that is determined to keep producing oil. You have the fracking corporations who have helped to make the USA the primary energy producer in the world today. On top of that you have the automobile companies who have zero interest in public transportation based on alternative energy sources. Or the airline industry that will never replace jets with dirigibles. Then there are the industries that either produce plastic or use it, such as at least 80 percent of the manufacturers of the commodities for sale at Walmart and that are now helping to destroy all living creatures in the world’s oceans. Let’s not forget about the companies producing chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that are key to industrial farming. Will they be ready to be replaced by sustainable organic agriculture?
American capitalism of the modern era cannot co-exist with environmentally sustainable practices. One or the other will have to triumph. If American capitalism succeeds, civilization will be the loser. As Rosa Luxemburg once put it, the choice is between socialism and barbarism. Sitting in at Nancy Pelosi’s office will not change that equation unfortunately.