The Green New Deal doesn’t require a tsunami of government funding

What exactly is the Green New Deal?Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


With the prices of solar and wind power, as well as batteries, so low, renewable energy should be spreading like wildfire across the United States. But although many states — such as CaliforniaVermontMinnesota and New York — are boldly forging ahead, most are not.

American environmentalists should cast a glance Europe’s way. There’s a quicker way to go renewable than waiting for a tsunami of state spending that may never come.
The Green New Deal pact, proposed in February by Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and embraced by scores of other US Democrats, is chock full of vibrant ideas and urgent policy considerations. It’s right that with the climate crisis accelerating faster than scientists predicted and our window to curb it narrowing, we have to think big — indeed, to pursue something at least as sweeping in scope as the New Deal recovery program of the 1930s.
Yet the Green New Deal overlooks some of the key lessons from Europe’s renewables revolution, to the detriment of rolling out renewables as fast as possible in the United States.
Critically, the clean energy boom here in Europe was not ignited foremost by government spending, which the Green New Deal implies is critical for the United States to do the same. Rather, legislation initiated by the EU and the national states opened energy markets to independent renewable-energy producers and revamped the regulatory framework to help ordinary citizens, small businesses and communities to get a foot in the door.
This strategic redesign of energy markets set the stage for Europe’s renewables buildout. “Laws matter,” Toby Couture, director of E3 Analytics, an energy consultancy in Germany, told me, “and they can be a huge driver of investment if you get the details right.”
EU members Austria, Sweden, Portugal, Denmark and Latvia, for example, now generate more than half of their electricity from renewables.
Here’s how it happened
In 1998, at the EU’s behest, Europeans began breaking up the monopolies of the giant corporate utilities that had dominated fossil fuel power generation and distribution for decades.
The legislation forced the large utilities to make way for smaller decentralized entrants, foremost those in renewable energy. National governments, pushed by grassroots environmentalists, introduced rules that prioritized the sale of green energy to the grid and created price supports for investors that helped them recover high investment costs. New consumer rights entitled customers to switch their energy providers at any time, without red tape or other hassles.
“The legislation,” Couture explained to me, “enabled ordinary citizens, farmers, church groups and companies to finance their projects through bank loans. The ever-greater sophistication of renewables technology, mostly solar and wind, gave rise to stable cash flows, profitable projects and investors who could repay large loans.” MORE

Democrats’ newest climate platform: Hammering fossil fuel companies

The rhetoric from candidates like Sanders, Warren and even Biden echoes the fervor of the climate change activists backing the Green New Deal.

Jay Inslee
Democratic presidential candidates like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have been increasingly assertive in their rhetoric over climate change. | Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Democratic White House hopefuls are getting increasingly aggressive on climate change — and calling for oil, gas and coal producers to pay for their role in climbing temperatures, rising seas and catastrophic weather.

The sharpened tone includes former Vice President Joe Biden’s promise to “take action against fossil fuel companies,” as well as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ charge that the businesses committed “criminal activity” by knowingly producing the greenhouse gases that worsen climate change. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposes legislation that could pave the way for lawsuits against the companies, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has accused fossil fuel producers of “killing people” and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to create a fossil fuel “excise tax.”

The rhetoric echoes the fervor of climate change activists who have pushed Democrats to embrace an ambitious “Green New Deal” that would wean the U.S. off fossil fuels in a decade or more, and comes amid lawsuits from states, cities and citizens accusing the companies of hiding evidence that their products are harming the planet.

But Republicans say they welcome the trend, too, accusing Democrats of pushing a radical attack on an industry that has provided one of the brightest spots in the economy and has reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“The deeper and the longer the Democrats talk about this, the happier the Trump campaign is,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who speaks regularly with the White House and President Donald Trump’s reelection effort. “They see fodder not so much in the issue but in the solutions being proposed by the Democrats.” MORE


Climate change’s partial 2020 breakthrough

Poll shows majority of Canadians say economy should shift from oil and gas, but most don’t know the Green New Deal

A pump jack operates in an oil field. A new poll shows 62 per cent of Canadians think the economy should shift away from oil and gas.

VANCOUVER—In an election race that’s put the environment front and centre, a new poll shows 62 per cent of Canadians think the economy should shift away from oil and gas.

Sixty per cent also believe “global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities.”

Canadians are less familiar, however, with a non-partisan campaign that’s calling for more ambitious climate action. Thirty per cent of the 1,000 people who completed the Research Co. survey said they were either “moderately familiar” or “very familiar” with “the Pact for a Green New Deal.”

The online survey was conducted between July 15 and July 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

The Pact for a Green New Deal calls on Canada to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, while creating jobs and addressing inequality. The Canadian movement launched as a non partisan initiative with more than 150 partner organizations in May 2019, a few months after U.S. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tabled a resolution for a Green New Deal south of the border.

“There are definitely ideas in the Green New Deal that many Canadians believe should be implemented, but if you embrace the policy as a whole it could be quite complicated for all the parties,” said Mario Conseco, the president of Research Co.

“It’s an idea that resonates … but it’s not going to be enough to make a voter who is concerned about health care, or the economy and jobs, or crime and public safety to say ‘Well I’m voting exclusively on the environment and climate change,’ ” he said. MORE

Can the climate justice movement ground the fighter jets celebrated at air shows?

CF-18 flyover in Toronto. Photo: synestheticstrings/Wikimedia Commons

It’s air show season again.

A number of them are coming up soon: the Abbotsford International Airshow August 9 to 11; the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto August 31 to September 2; the Aero Gatineau-Ottawa Air Show September 6 to 8; and the Peterborough Air Show September 21 to 22.

All of them feature military aircraft.

Notably, the CBC reports, “The U.S. Air Force F-35 demonstration team will visit Ottawa in September on the eve of this fall’s federal election — just as the competition to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s starts heating up.”

“The stealth fighter is one of four warplanes in the $19-billion contest, which was formally launched with a request for proposals by the Liberal government on July 23,” the article adds.

The $19 billion that is to be spent on 88 jet fighters that burn copious amounts of fuel each second they are in flight is another waste of billions of dollars on top of the $4.5 billion spent on purchasing the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline (and the billions more it will take to expand that pipeline).

The Leap Manifesto calls for “cuts to military spending.”

The U.K.-based Campaign Against Arms Trade has an “arms to renewables” campaign that says money now spent on subsidizing the arms industry would be better spent on renewables and that in turn would be better for workers, the economy and world peace.

And Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies, has argued that a Green New Deal needs to fight U.S. militarism. She cautions, “Wars and the military render impossible the aspirations contained in the Green New Deal.”

People have protested against air shows as a symbol of militarism for years.

In September 2010, a Toronto Star headline read: Protesters want “outdated” air show grounded. That article noted the critique of the “antiquated event” highlighted that the air show “pollutes the environment, disturbs residents and promotes symbols of militarism.”

In a 2016 opinion piece in the same newspaper, Craig Damian Smith commented, “in a city with a large population of refugee newcomers and people who have experienced the trauma of war it is insulting, invasive, and violent.”

“In Toronto, people affected by war are not an insignificant minority. This includes newcomers who aren’t refugees, Canadians, and family members struggling with inter-generational trauma,” he wrote.

It is my hope that Extinction Rebellion, Our Time, Fridays for Future and other climate justice groups will also see the need to challenge air shows as relics that serve to promote the militarism that accelerates climate breakdown and misdirects public funds away from the priority of building a green economy. MORE

Rosalind Adams: Getting the numbers right on our national emissions reductions.

Image result for emissions cutsWhat needs to be next for Canada’s Green New Deal is to determine what our true and just global responsibility is with regard to emissions cuts. The GND can’t fulfill it if we don’t know it.

I would like to share what I said at the Green New Deal meeting in Picton of July 23:

Getting the numbers right on our national emissions reductions.

The thing I like best about Canada’s Green New Deal is that it recognizes the primacy of saving a livable climate and incorporates this in its first principle. Canada’s Green New Deal also recognizes that saving a livable climate is first and foremost a matter of us in the so-called developed world making drastic cuts in our carbon emissions. There is a limit to the carbon dioxide emissions we can add to the atmosphere over the next decade without crashing the climate. And let’s not forget that within 30 years, that limit is zero.

I’m going to focus, as the GND does, on the next decade.

In order to save a livable climate it is crucial that all the projects and policies we develop going forward are consistent with staying below the 2030 global carbon emissions limit. Yet the Canadian Green New Deal movement does not have a coherent idea of what this is going to take.

This is in spite of having a clear, accessible guide: the IPCC Special Report Global Warming of 1.5 ºC. It details the catastrophic risks of going over 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures and the urgency of taking action to stay below that level. And it provides information about the global emissions reductions necessary to do this. Without going through all the math, by 2030 we need to reduce global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions by at least 51.8% from today’s level of 37.1 billion tonnes annually, to 17.9 billion tonnes annually1 or less.2

The first principle of Canada’s Green New Deal asserts that cutting our national emissions in half by 2030 meets the demands of this science.

This is ridiculous!

Canadian carbon emissions are 22 tonnes per person annually.

Halving the Canadian carbon footprint by 2030, factoring in for population growth, would give us a per capita level of about 10 tonnes. That is not consistent with the global emissions level necessary to save a livable climate of 17.9 billion tonnes annually.

What is having a per capita carbon footprint of 10 tonnes consistent with? By 2030 it is projected that the global population is going to be 8.5 billion. You can do the math in your head: 8.5 billion times 10 is 85 billion tonnes annually, which would destroy the climate.

That’s the most important thing I have to say, but I’d like to also talk about how and why cutting national emissions in half over the next decade has gotten to be the dominant meme.  MORE

Climate Emergency Declarations: How Cities Are Leading The Charge

  • By declaring a climate emergency, cities are adopting more powers to help curb the effects of climate change
  • The national government needs to declare an emergency and put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95% probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia. GETTY

One Small Step

By declaring a climate emergency, cities are adopting more powers to help curb the effects of climate change . In New York, the city council has set new carbon reduction targets for its major buildings, Sydney have added climate considerationsin any new policy or infrastructure decisions, while Shropshire Council, a rural district in the English Midlands, has committed to being carbon-neutral by 2030. In each case, these local governments have also used their declarations as a means to exert pressure on national decision-makers. There is no single definition of a climate emergency declaration, but many see it as a drive for carbon neutrality and a mandate for further political action.

Bristol councilor Carla Denyer, who helped her city pass one of the United Kingdom’s first local climate emergency declarations in November 2018 explains:

“We are acknowledging we are in an emergency situation. The national government needs to declare an emergency and put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions . It’s the first step to radical action.”

Six months after Bristol made its initial declaration, the United Kingdom became the first country to announce a climate emergency and pledged to dedicate more resources towards mitigating climate change.

In many cases, smaller political structures and more power over local policy have enabled cities to make more ambitious goals for themselves than national governments. The town of Chico in California declared a climate emergency after witnessing the most destructive wildfire in state history. Chico has pledged to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030 and intends to adopt many of the resolutions outlined in the Green New Deal. Rocked by a heatwave that sent temperatures soaring to 47 degrees, Paris is the latest major city to declare a climate emergency. With major emission reduction projects already in place in the French capital, the city council has expanded its environmental plans by announcing it will open a “climate academy” geared to educating the public about the risks of climate change.

Student climate activists hold banners and shout slogans during a Fridays for Future event near the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. Teenagers across the world have mobilized for climate action. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said the continent's policymakers - including environmentalists - are all failing to heed the climate crisis.
Student climate activists hold banners and shout slogans during a Fridays for Future event near the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. Teenagers across the world have mobilized for climate action. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said the continent’s policymakers – including environmentalists – are all failing to heed the climate crisis. © 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP
Deal or no deal

Despite a vast array of pledges and policy changes, many declarations have been made in a more symbolic way. MORE

Top 5 Reasons the Green New Deal is Workable, Winnable and the Idea We Need Right Now.

This text is an edited excerpt from a speech given by Avi Lewis on the Leap’s “Green New Deal for All”  tour in June 2019.

1.The Green New Deal Will Be a Massive Job Creator, Swell the Ranks of Unions, and Increase Workers Rights For All, Especially The Most Vulnerable.

We know that investments in renewable energy and efficiency create many more jobs than investments in fossil fuels. 5 times more, per unit of electricity generated, according to one UK study.1 But that only scratches the surface of the transformation required to cut our emissions at least in half in a decade. When you start thinking about the rest of the low-carbon economy: health care, education, local agriculture, land and water defense, and other forms of care work, the job creation potential is far greater.

Imagine the job-creation from the range of programs in a real Green New Deal:

  • retrofitting every building in Canada in a decade,
  • building hundreds of thousands of new units of public and non-market housing
  • planting hundreds of millions of trees
  • building free electrified mass transit in every community
  • Universal daycare, rebuilding our education system with thousands of new teachers

These measures will create more than a million jobs – and even more when we include a federal jobs guarantee with at least a 15 dollar minimum wage, decent benefits, holidays and pensions.

And while we’re embarking on the greatest job creation program in our history, why would we not simply make it a goal to double the unionization rate in Canada, extending collective bargaining rights and protections to those millions of workers?

So, when people tell you that the GND will hurt workers, set them straight – tell them that the Green New Deal is a job program of epic proportions. A tool to fight for working people across this land that will leave no worker behind.

 2. Ignoring the Climate Crisis will Bankrupt us — But The Green New Deal is Our Chance to Create a Much Fairer Economy Than We Have Right Now

The economic damages of allowing global temperatures to rise by 2°C would hit $69 trillion globally.2 And we are currently headed for twice that level of warming, at least.

For too long, we have had climate policies that dumped the burden of paying for transition on working people while letting big polluters off the hook entirely. Moving forward, fairness in climate financing must be non-negotiable – and that means the polluters have to pay.

It’s not hard to figure out who we’re talking about here: the “Carbon Majors” – the 100 corporate and state fossil fuel giants responsible for  a whopping 71 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Also, the richest 10 percent of the world’s population, who produce almost half of all global emissions today.

Any climate policies that are going to be backlash-proof have to reflect that reality.  We can increase royalties on extraction. We can slash absurd fossil fuel subsidies. And we can sue for climate damages.

But it’s not just fossil fuel companies that are failing in their obligations to the rest of society.

If Canada’s top 100 corporations just paid their damn taxes at the legislated rate, we’d have an extra 10 Billion dollars in public revenue – each and every year.3

And then there’s an even higher annual amount that Canadian corporations are stashing in tax havens. More than $1.6 trillion dollars left Canada for offshore financial centers last year. If only 10% of that sum was offshored in order to dodge taxes, cracking down would generate $25 Billion a year. That’s a helluva down payment on a Green New Deal, and would begin to tackle inequality head-on. The Green New Deal is our opportunity to address structural inequality and tackle the climate crisis at the same time.

We can afford a Green New Deal, as long as we have the courage to do what so many political parties in this country refuse to do, which is to go where the money is, and get it back.

3.This is our chance to defend life on earth and Indigenous land rights at the same time.


Enough of the climate nightmare. It’s time to paint the dream

A new approach must connect the climate crisis with inequality to offer a compelling and attractive way forward for society

‘Tackling the climate crisis offers a profound opportunity to create better lives for people.’ Dunlaw wind farm in the Scottish Borders. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Let’s talk about the dream, not just the nightmare. Imagine the cities and towns of the future: clean, green, with decent air quality, hospitable to walking and cycling, powered by renewables, with green space, not concrete jungles, and rewarding jobs in green industries. That isn’t just a conceit for the imagination but a tangible vision of the future produced today by Common Wealth, the thinktank of which I am a board member.

Tackling the climate and ecological crisis requires urgently reimagining how we live and work. A Green New Deal – conceived of in the UK, popularised by US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and now powered by social movements here – should not just decarbonise today’s economy but build the sustainable and just economy of tomorrow. That’s why imagining a town transformed by a just transition to a low-carbon future isn’t just a nice piece of design, it is an essential symbol of where the climate movement now needs to take its case. That movement has an unprecedented chance to be heard as a result of the spectacular success of Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikes in refocusing public attention on the urgency of action. But now, with people listening once again, our duty is to offer a compelling and attractive vision of the future.

For far too long, progressives – myself included – have talked about the climate emergency and economic justice separately

The way we do this is by connecting the two great long-term crises that confront us today: the climate emergency and inequality. This is how we construct a broad and durable coalition that can sustain this unprecedented transformation. As well as truth-telling about the disaster that will confront us if we do not act, with the costs falling on those least responsible, ours must be a story of how we build a more equal, prosperous, democratic society. MORE

We have solutions to the climate crisis. Let’s speed up and implement them

Mike Hudema regularly posts on Twitter innovations and best practices in short videos that would help us avoid climate disaster and lead us towards a new green economy.

Posted below are some liks to his various postings. The question inevitable arises, why aren’t our leaders following these best practices?


What is the Green New Deal — and why do Americans seem so obsessed with it?

Republicans warn of hamburger bans as they fixate on the climate plan splitting Democrats

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, has become of the face of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to tackle climate change and reshape the entire U.S. economy. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has dismissed the plan as ‘kooky’ and claims it would ban cows. (Caitlin Ochs, Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

An economic blueprint to save the planet from climate catastrophe. A moonshot mission to shift the U.S. power grid to 100 per cent renewable energy within 10 years. A hippy-dippy socialist plot to seize Americans’ hamburgers.

Opinions and exaggerations abound when it comes to the Green New Deal. Progressives are split over whether to embrace or dismiss the roadmap. Republicans are gleefully seizing on it to paint Democrats as “nutty” idealists, with Senate Republicans looking to force a vote on it to expose cracks within the Democratic caucus.

If you only have a passing familiarity with the Green New Deal’s details, though, count yourself in good company. Not even Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seemed to know what it puts forward.

…The thing is, the Green New Deal is getting attention. Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 are staking positions on it. And at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), in which warnings about socialism emerged as a key theme, the Green New Deal was assailed as an arch-liberal plot.

What does the Green New Deal propose?

Big picture, it aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and wean the U.S. off fossil fuels, though it stops short of calling for the all-out elimination of fossil fuels.

It aims to fix what the text of a 14-page resolution calls “systemic injustices” — deeply entrenched conditions that disproportionately affect low-income communities, people of colour, women, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The economic stimulus plan is co-sponsored by two Democrats: The social media savvy New York congressional freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

While it would rework the entire U.S. economy to meet the threat of climate change, hammering out the finer points remains a work in progress.

What’s up with the name?

The “green” part of the Green New Deal calls for measures which, according to a since-deleted draft FAQ, might include:

  • Converting all of U.S. power demand to renewable energy.
  • Investing heavily in programs for clean-energy jobs and technologies.
  • Supporting sustainable farming practices to eliminate pollution “as much as is technologically feasible.”
  • Upgrading or replacing every building for efficiency.
  • Overhauling transportation with high-speed rail to “a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”
  • And creating a national “smart” grid that would increase energy efficiency.

The draft overview has broad social justice intentions, hence the “new deal” reference. (That borrows from former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era programs to revive the U.S. economy.)

A Green New Deal would bring universal “high-quality health care” to all Americans. It calls for a guaranteed job “with a family-sustaining wage” to anyone, as well as tuition-free public education. In addition, it would clean up environmentally hazardous areas that have been shown to disproportionately affect communities of colour and low-income families.

Jeremy Ornstein, of Watertown, Mass., centre, cheers on fellow environmental activists as they occupy the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Steny Hoyer, as they try to pressure Democratic support for a sweeping agenda to fight climate change, on Dec. 10, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

At least six Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 nomination have endorsed it: Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders.

“Not transitioning to a clean energy system is unaffordable and uneconomical.” — Mark Z. Jacobson