Prepared and maintained by NYC DSA Ecosocialist Working Group.
Excerpts only: follow links for complete items. Updated 9pm EST 3/26/19
Democratic Socialists of America Ecosocialist Working Group 2/28/19
Full text of the Green New Deal Resolution introduced on February 7 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA).
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.”
The Green New Deal aims to
Mobilizing for a Just, Prosperous, and Sustainable Economy
New Consensus February 2019
Now, with the introduction of a new resolution by Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey, the campaign for a Green New Deal is poised to surge again. This [14-page] document describes in detail what the excitement is about.
“Inspired by the New Deal programs that helped us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Green New Deal will provide similar relief and create an economy that makes our communities sustainable, healthy and just….
The Green New Deal perfectly sums up the scope, scale, and transformative spirit of the climate response this moment demands. In fact, with its vision for a rapid, justice-based shift to renewables, the Green New Deal is the closest thing we’ve seen to The Leap Manifesto brought to life in political language — and we couldn’t be more inspired by it. Visit The Leap's website for
Trade Unions for Just Transition: The Search for a Transformative Politics
By Natasha J. Fernández-Silber/Detroit DSA Medium 2/25/19 https://medium.com/dsa-detroit-newspaper/making-the-rust-belt-green-through-a-federal-great-lakes-authority-a548a5d46b44
Detroit DSA has begun organizing in earnest around a bold initiative to “Make the Rust Belt Green.” In collaboration with local elected officials and its coalition partners, Detroit DSA is calling for the creation of a new federal agency, in the vein of the Tennessee Valley Authority, called the “Great Lakes Authority.” The GLA would be a regional planning agency enacted under the umbrella of the “Green New Deal.” Its mandate: to bring green union jobs and economic development to the Midwest.
The Great Lakes Authority represents a credible way to bring back quality manufacturing jobs to the Midwest. Massive amounts of green infrastructure must be built to avert climate catastrophe. It should be built here, in places like Detroit, where millions of people already have manufacturing expertise and experience.
By Christian Parenti Jacobin 3/13/19
An often-overlooked source of funding for the Green New Deal is the private sector. Government does not need to foot the whole bill. It merely needs to spend enough, and legislate enough, to trigger a transformation of private investment. Even many liberal and left economists are stuck thinking that government has to pay for the whole Green New Deal, as if it were a welfare program. In reality, government merely needs to do enough to channel ongoing public and private investment in new directions.
The Intercept 2/13/19
Either Trump is right and the Green New Deal is a losing political issue, one he can smear out of existence. Or he is wrong and a candidate who makes the Green New Deal the centerpiece of their platform will take the Democratic primary and then kick Trump’s ass…
Which outcome we end up with depends on the actions taken by social movements in the next two years. Because these are not questions that will be settled through elections alone. At their core, they are about building political power — enough to change the calculus of what is possible….
That was the lesson of the original New Deal, one we would be wise to remember right now. It's critical to remember that none of it would have happened without massive pressure from social movements. FDR rolled out the New Deal in the midst of a historic wave of labor unrest: There was the Teamsters’ rebellion and Minneapolis general strike in 1934, the 83-day shutdown of the West Coast by longshore workers that same year, and the Flint sit-down autoworkers strikes in 1936 and 1937. During this same period, mass movements, responding to the suffering of the Great Depression, demanded sweeping social programs, such as Social Security and unemployment insurance, while socialists argued that abandoned factories should be handed over to their workers and turned into cooperatives….
The Green New Deal will need to be subject to constant vigilance and pressure from experts who understand exactly what it will take to lower our emissions as rapidly as science demands, and from social movements that have decades of experience bearing the brunt of false climate solutions, whether nuclear power, the chimera of carbon capture and storage, or carbon offsets.
But in remaining vigilant, we also have to be careful not to bury the overarching message: that this is a potential lifeline that we all have a sacred and moral responsibly to reach for.
By Derek Seidman The Public Accountability Initiative 2/28/19
This report serves as a preliminary guide to the emerging anti-Green New Deal coalition. With the fossil fuel industry at its core, its supporting members include the Republican Party, a range of Democratic Party centrists, establishment economists, corporate-aligned environmental organizations, billionaire influencers, and building trades officials. Most members are tied in some way to oil and gas money, influence, and advocacy. From media airwaves to congressional committees, and through a range of arguments and tactics, members of this anti-Green New Deal coalition are seeking to dilute, co-opt, stall, or crush a far-reaching Green New Deal.
By Matthew Miles Goodrich Dissent 2/15/19
The chasm between our present addiction to fossil fuels and the decarbonized economy the world needs is so daunting that it has proven easier to chant “we have the solutions” than it has been to build the political power to win in government….
For much of its history, the climate movement has failed to offer a viable way beyond this impasse. Its organizers and institutions have consistently refused to confront the crisis as a crisis, preferring to view it either as capitalism’s natural conclusion or as a policy problem to be solved by the right wonks. This refusal constitutes, among other things, a refusal of politics—a refusal to articulate grievance through strategic interventions for power that pit a public protagonist against a public villain. Politics that does not contest for power is merely a performance; politics that does so without strategy is a bad performance. It is no exaggeration to say that the climate movement of the past decade has been an apolitical movement for refusing to engage with the basic mechanisms of power….
The Green New Deal makes fighting climate change a political project at a moment when the Democratic Party’s left-flank is resurgent for the first time in a generation. Perhaps paradoxically, a political approach to fighting climate change has, in a moment of political crisis, become a source of hope.
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 12/10/19
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….
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 Kamran Nayeri Our Place in the World 3/25/19
My criticism of the GND Resolution is foundational. That is, in my view the GND Resolution cannot be rectified with amendments, which is what (eco)socialists and others have offered so far. To stop the existential crisis, we must reverse the Anthropocene, and that requires us to stop capital accumulation on the world scale. Yet, the GND Resolution is:
The problem with the GND Resolution is the bourgeois theoretical framework that views the working people as voters and consumers not as direct producers who constitute the key the social agency for radical social change. It is impossible to resolve the existential ecosocial crisis rooted in the alienation from nature and social alienation without the self-organization and self-mobilization of the working people ourselves. It is the billions of working people in the United State and worldwide who must transform ourselves from the exploited objects to appropriate wealth from nature largely for the handful of the super-rich to the active social agency to transcend the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization in the direction of an ecocentric socialist society. The fight against climate change is a precondition for this process and this process is the precondition for a successful fight against the climate crisis (and the two other existential threats we face). To the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization, all alienated social institutions, including the capitalist market and the capitalist state, and all power relations, not only in the economic sphere but also in the political, social, and cultural spheres, and not only in human relations but also in relationship between us and the rest of life on the planet must wither away….
The fact is that effective action against the climate crisis has been delayed for over quarter of a century not only because of the fossil fuel lobby and the anti-regulation climate deniers but largely because of the misleaders of the movement itself who to this day refuse to accept any role for capitalism in the crisis. Thus, they have channeled the energy and enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands of working people and youth who have been moved to action into supporting “climate-friendly” capitalist politicians, in particular in the Democratic Party instead of charting a course entirely independent of the capitalist system beginning by telling the truth about the existential crisis we face.
By Paul Street Counterpunch 2/25/19
Something you’ll never hear from the GND’s right-wing and liberal detractors: it is, if anything, insufficiently radical, not excessively radical. It’s progressive- Democrat sponsors have yet to join serious eco-socialists in calling for the green transformation they rightly desire to be funded, as it will have to be, with resources garnered from massive reductions in the U.S. military budget, which eats up more than half of U.S. federal discretionary spending and sustains a global military empire that is itself the world’s single largest institutional carbon emitter.
At the same time, the GND’s sponsors have yet to call – as they will have to if they are serious about environmental reconversion – for their program to be funded and protected from capital flight by the popular nationalization of the United States’ leading financial institutions.
Sanders and AOC have yet – don’t hold your breath – to call (as do serious socialists) for workers’ control of production and of the workplace (where working-age Americans spend most of their waking hours) more broadly. They aren’t demanding the overdue public takeover of the aforementioned financial institutions. They aren’t calling for a general strike or a Gilets Jaunes-style rebellion of the proletariat and a call for a new national governing charter that replaces undemocratic bourgeois “representative” fake-democracy with majority rule and popular sovereignty. Those things, too, will ultimately be required if we are serious about ending the eco-cidal rule of the Lords of Capital, for whom the endless commodification of everything and everyone is the permanent goal no matter how dreadful the consequences for living things.
One, Two, … Many Green New Deals System Change Not Climate Change 2/26/19
There are a number of ecosocialist responses to the Green New Deal, converging for the most part around the recognition that though it is not the Green New Deal most of us would prefer, it is the opportunity to move the paralysis of the climate change movement very far in the right – left – direction that our times so desperately need.
This is an essay in six voices, from long-time activists who participate in the North American ecosocialist network System Change Not Climate Change. Each was challenged to make their point in 500 words or less. We intend this as a constructive contribution to the wonderful storm of discussion that the Green New Deal has opened up, and we welcome your comments on the essays.
while we are grateful to see this support by the Representative and Senator, we remain concerned that unless some changes are made to the resolution, the Green New Deal will leave incentives by industries and governments to continue causing harm to Indigenous communities. Furthermore, as our communities who live on the frontline of the climate crisis have been saying for generations, the most impactful and direct way to address the problem is to keep fossil fuels in the ground. We can no longer leave any options for the fossil fuel industry to determine the economic and energy future of this country. And until the Green New Deal can be explicit in this demand as well as closing the loop on harmful incentives, we cannot fully endorsee the resolution. We remain supportive of Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey’s aspirations and hope to be constructive partners in actualizing the goal of generating radical change in the fight to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth.
In this interview, Foster discusses why a Green New Deal is just an entry point to an ecological revolution, and why any economic-social system that hopes to address the climate crisis must transcend capitalism.
Michael Roberts' Blog 2/8/19
it is not just Trump and Wall Street who have thrown up their hands in horror at the GND proposals. Some orthodox Keynesians have wrung their hands. Noah Smith, the Keynesian economics blogger and Bloomberg columnist … considers the ‘nonsense’ of MMT [Modern Monetary Theory] will completely undermine the objectives of the GND. He wants the Democrat lefts to decide between work-based policies and redistributive policies.
It does seem that AOC and other promoters of the GND program think that MMT can justify and explain where the money is going to come from to pay for all the aspirations and necessary public investment. For example, leading MMTer, Stephanie Kelton was asked: “ Can we afford a #GreenNewDeal? She replied: Yes. The federal government can afford to buy whatever is for sale in its own currency.”…
MMT argues that we can just start with the state printing money and then all will flow from that – more investment, more production, more incomes, more employment – as though the social relations of capitalism were irrelevant. MMT will deliver full employment at decent wages, healthcare, education and other public services without interfering with the big banks, the multi-nationals, big pharma and Wall Street. You see, because the state controls the money (the dollar), then it is all powerful over the likes of Goldman Sachs, Bank America, Boeing, Caterpillar, Amazon, WalMart etc.
Therein lies the danger of MMT as the theoretical and policy support for government spending and running deficits. Actually, it is not necessary to adopt MMT to deliver the GND programme. There are many ways to meet the bill. First, there is the redistribution of existing federal and state spending in the US. Military and defense spending in the US is nearly $700bn a year, or around 3.5% of current US GDP. If this was diverted into civil investment projects for climate change and the environment, and those working in the armaments sector used their skills for such projects, then it would go a long way to meeting GND aspirations. Of course, such a switch would incur the wrath of the military, financial and industrial complex and could not be implemented without curbing their political power….
Let me be clear, Left Democrats and the supporters of MMT are rightly pushing for measures that really would help ‘the many’ in America. But, in my view, it will be an illusion to think the GND can be implemented, even in just economic terms, simply by following MMT and printing the dollars required. Yes, the state can print as much as it wants, but the value of each dollar in delivering productive assets is not in the control of the state where the capitalist mode of production dominates. What happens when profits drop and a capitalist sector investment slump ensues? Growth and inflation still depends on the decisions of capital, not the state. If the former don’t invest (and they will require that it be profitable), then state spending will be insufficient….
By Kali Akuno/Cooperation Jackson In These Times 12/12/18
The Green New Deal proposal “has generated presents an opportunity for the Left to strengthen our forces, gather new forces and expand the base of the movement. Her putting this forward is a profound opportunity for the Left.
I think the Left needs to seize it. We can do that by talking about it: the things we support, why we support them, the things we want to see strengthened, improved and changed. We should communicate that as far and wide as we can. We have to shift the conversation and put the Right on the defensive. Right now, they’re on the offensive.
We need to critically analyze some of the shortfalls of the capitalist logic embedded in this plan. We have to push back and improve upon the Green New Deal.”
“There are some concrete suggestions many of us have been putting forward for years. Healing the soil, reintroducing small-scale agriculture, restoring the commons, making more space available for wildlife reintroduction. This has been coming from the It Takes Roots Alliance, which consists of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Climate Justice Alliance, the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the Right to the City Alliance. On the ground, organizations from oppressed communities have been putting forward a just transition for a while.”
“We need to be putting out and elevating the counter-proposals many of us have been putting forward. There is the “just transition” framework coming out of some social movements and organized labor.”
“We have to include the peoples of the world at the frontlines of the transition in the discussion to resolve it - Indigenous peoples, the peoples of Oceania, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the African continent. It’s not just a national problem. The way this is framed is really as if we’re going to stop certain problems within U.S. borders. But carbon emissions don’t observe national boundaries—they never have and never will. Nation-state policy limits us in certain ways. That’s another aspect of this that we have to push back on and challenge. This has to include front-line communities in the United States and from all throughout the world.”
“The concept of reparations needs to be introduced into several different levels of the conversation. You can think of reparations in terms of financial compensation, and you can think of it in terms of decolonization—returning lands back to indigenous and colonized people subjected to the United States and Western Europe much of the past 500 years.”
“We have to adopt a program of “keep it in the ground.” There is no way to get around that. That’s a demand coming from Indigenous communities.”
“future. I don’t think we should hide from that or step away from that. We’re going to have to take direct action on a massive scale to shut that industry down on an international level.”
“There is no question that we need to adopt a “keep it in the ground” policy—like, yesterday. That has to be one of our central demands.We have to scale up our campaigns against the oil companies, and we have to win. This is a necessary political struggle.”
“We are going to have to ultimately do a major overhaul in how things are produced, distributed, consumed and recycled back into the natural resource systems that we depend on. If we don’t think about just transition in a long-term, holistic way, we are missing the point. To think we can make some tweaks to capitalism or expansive “carbon neutral” production—that is also missing the point.”
“Whether or not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reaches out, we have an obligation to tap her on her shoulder and say some of these ideas are terrible, here’s why, here are alternatives, here are examples of what the alternative looks like in practice—you can elevate them and use them as a model.”
“She’s going to have to go to battle, she’s going to have to fight for the Green New Deal, and she’s probably going to listen to those forces that have the greatest leverage in terms of resources, or the greatest number of voices in sheer numbers. Those are things we have to deliver—we need to deliver that to make sure she’s accountable to our demands. We need to be real about how this game is going to play out. And be clear about what we bring to the table to make sure we get the outcomes we need.”
By Alex Baca Slate 2/7/19
The Green New Deal has a big blind spot: It doesn’t address the places Americans live. And our physical geography—where we sleep, work, shop, worship, and send our kids to play, and how we move between those places—is more foundational to a green, fair future than just about anything else. The proposal encapsulates the liberal delusion on climate change: that technology and spending can spare us the hard work of reform.
America is a nation of sprawl. More Americans live in suburbs than in cities, and the suburbs that we build are not the gridded, neighborly Mayberrys of our imagination. Rather, the places in which we live are generally dispersed, inefficient, and impossible to navigate without a car. Dead-ending cul-de-sacs and the divided highways that connect them are such deeply engrained parts of the American landscape that it’s easy to forget they were, themselves, the fruits of a massive federal investment program….
A Green New Deal must insist on a new, and better, land use regime, countering decades of federal sprawl subsidy. The plan already recognizes the need to retrofit and upgrade buildings. Why not address their locations while we’re at it? Suggestions of specific policies that would enable a Green New Deal to address land use have already emerged: We could, simply, measure greenhouse gases from our transportation system or build more housing closer to jobs centers. Reallocating what we spend on building new roads to paying for public transit instead would go a long way toward limiting sprawl.
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….