The Green (ish) New Deal – Socialist Freedom Party

“Slow and steady wins the race,” the old saying goes. That’s fine for running a marathon, but with the planet on the verge of irreversible damage and the majority of its people facing a struggle to survive, swift action is imperative.

Enter the Green New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms discussed in several countries for years. It was born out of grassroots environmental activism in response to global disasters and their disproportionate impact on the world’s most vulnerable. But does it go far enough, and will it be in time?

The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman coined the term in 2006. Friedman’s proposition was that the United States “reinvent itself” as a world leader in the fight against climate change, much like Franklin’s “New Deal” Roosevelt was a major action in the face of the Great Depression. from the 1930s.

The above figures are projected totals for the next 10 years. Sources: White House statement, October 28, 2021; National Defense Budget Estimate, Office of the Under-Secretary of Defense (Controller). INFOGRAPHIC: Gordon Frazier / FS

Reform and Green parties have championed something like a Green New Deal in Australia, Canada, US, UK, EU and South Korea.

Bernie Sanders put the fight against climate change and economic injustice at the center of his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, giving them wide-scale visibility and popular acceptance.

Green New Deal attempts. The idea was turned into a bill in the United States in February 2019 by Liberal Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markley. The bill asserted that “climate change, pollution and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental and economic injustices … by disproportionately affecting indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialised communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor,… women ”and others. True.

It proposed ambitious goals, guaranteed access to drinking water and healthy food, meeting 100% of energy needs with renewable technologies, offering decent wages and the right of workers to organize, and creating jobs. high quality unions, health care, affordable housing and economic security.

There was no way the Green New Deal would ever pass. In typical Democrat / Republican shenanigans and fingering, he was dead a month later. Ocasio-Cortez and Markley reintroduced the bill in April 2021. But bold as it sounds, the Green New Deal measure contains no details and is anyway a non-binding resolution!

He has now been buried in the debate over Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) ​​program, which deliberately eschews the term “Green New Deal”. BBB began as a $ 3.5 trillion spending plan that would support green technologies and manufacturing, penalize energy utilities for using fossil fuels, make child and elderly care more affordable, increase funding for higher education and reduce student debt. The BBB called for the new spending to be driven by higher taxes on the wealthy.

It didn’t take long for most social and health programs and fossil fuel phase-out actions to be put aside. Build Back Better is now down to $ 1.75 trillion and it remains to be seen if that will pass. Taxing the rich to pay has been abandoned. Larry Summers, former World Bank economist, and arrogant Democrat member, pointed out that there is something wrong with a percent like him “getting big tax relief from a Democrats-only tax bill.” The only green in this deal is more money for those with too much.

Outside of this bill, Biden guaranteed continued subsidies of $ 20 billion a year to the fossil fuel industry, and his Home Office is offering more than 80 million Gulf of Mexico acres for oil and gas drilling leases.

Drive global inaction. The United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26) and a World Health Organization Conference on Health and Climate Change were underway in Glasgow, Scotland, as the Freedom Socialist went to press. Their ambitious language was, as climate activist Greta Thunberg put it, full of “distant non-binding promises” and “blah, blah, blah”. Biden’s utter failure to bring meaningful US climate action to the table has been moderate.

What is often overlooked is how US inaction undermines any effective global response. It is the largest historical contributor to global warming greenhouse gas emissions, and currently the second annual culprit. And its heightened cold war against China, currently the biggest emitter, is a cause of the reversal of the course of this country from reduction to increase in its dependence on coal. China is increasing its military spending to deal with American belligerence.

Capitalist elephant in the room. The programs of the Greens, Democrats and COP26 invariably call for slow and gradual change that preserves capitalist profits. But humanity just doesn’t have time to sit idly by while an incredibly small group of the ultra-rich lead the destruction of the environment.

The evidence that dramatic and comprehensive action is needed on a global scale is overwhelming. In the United States alone, the cost of climate-related disasters has risen to $ 100 billion or more per year over the past five years. And the pace is picking up.

Many are dissatisfied with incrementalism. Indigenous-led activists have descended on the White House ahead of COP26, demanding that President Biden declare a national climate emergency and immediately halt fossil fuel projects. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Glasgow.

Radical scientists leaked the forthcoming reports of Working Groups II and III of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) before they could be watered down by governments before their release, as they have been in the past. Among other things, they said: “Gradual change is not a viable option” and “We must abandon economic growth, which is the basis of capitalism”. Their statements are clear. We need broad and concrete action now on a scale that the phrase the Green New Deal implies without spelling it out. This kind of drastic change is not happening under capitalism in the United States or in other big polluting countries. Only revolutionary mass action can do it.

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