Anti-capitalism is entering the mainstream. Are we ready?

Faced with the urgent need to address climate change, the pitch that individual environmentally-friendly consumerist choices is finally falling flat with more and more people. The New Green Deal proposes a blueprint to address climate change that will demand concerted action by all levels of government, national, provincial or state, and municipalities if we are to reach the IPCC’s crucial targets to avoid climate disaster It’s time to ask,  Where is the County’s New Green Deal?

George MonbiotGeorge Monbiot. Image: John Russell/Flickr

For years it seemed that anti-capitalism wasn’t really the stuff of polite conversation.

It may have been okay to talk about corporate power or corporate rule and maybe more recently about the 1% or even neo-liberalism, but in many civil society circles in this country, it felt like it was a step too far to be explicitly anti-capitalist.

With climate breakdown upon us, might that be changing?

 “What we have to do is the big structural, political economic stuff. We have to overthrow this system which is eating the planet with perpetual growth. We’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it.” -George Monbiot

Naomi Klein — whose 2014 book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate helped move this critique along — tweeted about Monbiot’s TV appearance, “Gotta love it when the live studio audience of a British chat show cheers for overthrowing capitalism to save our habitat.”

Klein has commented, “After years of recycling, carbon offsetting and light bulb changing, it is obvious that individual action will never be an adequate response to the climate crisis. Climate change is a collective problem, and it demands collective action.”

Always ready with a new trick, the Trudeau government is now trying to sell us the spin that the carbon tax is a significant measure to address climate breakdown.

But that argument quickly breaks down when you look at the numbers, says Mark Jaccard, professor in the School of Environment and Resource Management at Simon Fraser University….the federal carbon tax is $20 a tonne and will max out at $50 a tonne in 2022. In other words, it’s an insufficient tax that won’t help us reach an insufficient target. MORE

 

Environmental justice and the Green New Deal

Hundreds gather in San Francisco with the youth led Sunrise Movement. Photo: Peg Hunter/Flickr
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 a series of essays in six voices, from longtime 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. It was intended as a constructive contribution to the wonderful storm of discussion that the Green New Deal has opened up. Read the full series here.

The Green New Deal, like some sort of eco-superhero, has arrived at the eleventh hour. Naomi Klein writes hopefully of it as a plan to address global warming that at long last matches the scale of the crisis. Klein (co-author of the Green New Deal-esque “Leap Manifesto“) has reason for optimism — a Green New Deal is not a single policy intervention, but a systemic approach to transform our economy and energy system and build sustainable, democratically-empowered communities.

The point of the concept is in its name — “green” and “New Deal.” It marries the need for decarbonization to a reimagining of a just and fair society embodied in slogans like “climate justice” and “just transition.” The Green New Deal concept has arisen from many quarters, including decades of work by environmental justice groups, the Green Party (which insists on defunding the military in order to fund life), and, more recently, the Sunrise Movement as well as rebellious politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have brought visibility to the concept.

Both decarbonization and justice are crucial. Since climate change is engendered by a ruling class that exists via a class that is ruled, decarbonization won’t happen without creation of a just and equitable economics and society. MORE

 

Green New Deal critics can’t see the forest for the trees

Image result for Green New Deal critics can’t see the forest for the trees
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the main champion of the Green New Deal proposal. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about the (new) Green New Deal. It’s an ambitious plan to make America carbon-neutral — as well as more equitable — in a mere 10 years.

The Ocasio-Cortez resolution lists a number of objectives in addition to carbon neutrality such as universal health care and stronger rights for workers.

Some view this “green intersectionality” as damaging to the fight against climate change. They argue that these other policy goals are irrelevant, costly and will weaken support for the plan. Others suggest, to the contrary, that it is politically savvy to link issues that voters clearly care about to the fight against climate change.


Student activists with the Sunrise Movement occupy Nancy Pelosi’s office in November 2018, when she was House Minority Leader, to demand that she and the Democrats act on climate change. Shutterstock

Author and activist Naomi Klein has eloquently argued why both sides miss the point. The prevailing view places issues into silos, and fails to grasp that the crises of inequality and environmental devastation are “inextricably linked — and can only be overcome with a holistic vision for social and economic transformation.” MORE

 

Renewable energy brings renewal to Indigenous communities

mountain silhouettes during golden hour

Energy is inextricably linked to a range of community issues, from health to housing. That was one message that emerged from a four-day gathering in Calgary of more than 200 young Indigenous leaders from every province and territory, organized by Disa Crow Chief of the Siksika Nation and Cory Beaver of the Stoney Nakoda Nation.

Participants came to the SevenGen gathering in January to learn about opportunities in Canada’s energy transition from an Indigenous youth perspective. Beaver and Crow Chief are keen to engage young people in Indigenous-led energy solutions and find them ongoing mentorship opportunities.

SevenGen’s website explains, “As youth of the seventh generation, we feel a renewed responsibility to protect our environment, as water protectors and guardians of all creation. Through SevenGen, we hope to strengthen relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from diverse backgrounds, share knowledge across cultures, and ensure that the wellbeing of land, water, and all the life within it remains at the forefront of discussions about energy.”

For non-Indigenous participants, the notion that many issues we often consider separately are interconnected was striking. Ideas around energy were closely entwined with language, food self-sufficiency and improved housing, health and well-being. All were grounded in a perspective that emphasizes a deep connection to the land and a responsibility to it and the life it holds.

If we continue to elevate only voices of those who have traditionally held power, we won’t likely discover meaningful solutions to the problems we collectively face. Listening to people with different world views is essential to finding new ways forward.

If we continue to elevate only voices of those who have traditionally held power, we won’t likely discover meaningful solutions to the problems we collectively face. Listening to people with different world views is essential to finding new ways forward

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Naomi Klein: The Green New Deal Is Changing the Calculus of the Possible

Big ideas are the only ones that can realistically tackle the climate crisis.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Sunrise Movement

Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins activists with the Sunrise Movement, who occupied Representative Nancy Pelosi’s office on November 13, 2018, to demand that congressional Democrats act on climate change. (Rachael Warriner)

Jon Wiener: How would you describe the Green New Deal resolution introduced by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey?

Naomi Klein: It’s a sweeping plan to radically transform how we get energy, move ourselves around, live in cities, and grow our food; and it puts justice at the center—justice broadly defined, from racial and gender justice to making sure no worker is left behind, battling inequality at every level. It’s really about multitasking. It’s about understanding that we are in a time of multiple overlapping crises, and that we are on an incredibly tight deadline when it comes to lowering greenhouse-gas emissions in time to prevent truly catastrophic warming. In order to bring people along with these necessary changes, there have to be benefits in the here-and-now in terms of the kinds of jobs that are provided and the justice that comes through.

JW: The Green New Deal, you’ve said, is not a question that will be settled through elections alone. What do you mean?

NK: In terms of winning the power to introduce a package as ambitious as the resolution, the only real historical precedent is the original New Deal. And the political dynamics that produced the original New Deal were not a benevolent politician handing reforms down from on high, from the goodness of his heart. Of course it mattered to have FDR in power instead of Herbert Hoover, but it mattered even more to have an organized population which was flexing its muscles in every conceivable way in the 1930s—from sit-down strikes in auto plants, to shutting down the ports on the West Coast, to shutting down entire cities with general strikes. And it mattered also to have more radical voices who were calling for more radical policies than the New Deal was offering, like a truly cooperative economy. All of that created the context in which FDR was able to sell the New Deal to elites. They were grudging about it, but the alternative seemed to be political revolution.

So the only way that something like this happens is if it is accompanied by a huge grassroots mobilization, where every workplace, every sector, every movement is asking, “What would a Green New Deal mean for us? What would it mean in our workplace? What would it mean for the groups that we represent?” If we are going to succeed, they need to make it their own. So it’s going to take a hell of a lot of grassroots organizing, mobilizing all of these sectors to really believe that the Green New Deal is going to make their lives better, coupled with politicians running at every level of government, including for president, with a promise to enact this on day one. MORE

THE BATTLE LINES HAVE BEEN DRAWN ON THE GREEN NEW DEAL

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks alongside Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) at a news conference about the Green New Deal, in Washington, Feb. 7, 2019. The measure, drafted by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey, calls for a sweeping environmental and economic mobilization that would make the United States carbon neutral by 2030. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks alongside Sen. Ed Markey at a news conference about the Green New Deal, in Washington, Feb. 7, 2019. Photo: Pete Marovich/Redux

“I REALLY DON’T like their policies of taking away your car, taking away your airplane flights, of ‘let’s hop a train to California,’ or ‘you’re not allowed to own cows anymore!’”

So bellowed President Donald Trump in El Paso, Texas, his first campaign-style salvo against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s Green New Deal resolution. There will surely be many more.

It’s worth marking the moment. Because those could be the famous last words of a one-term president, having wildly underestimated the public appetite for transformative action on the triple crises of our time: imminent ecological unraveling, gaping economic inequality (including the racial and gender wealth divide), and surging white supremacy. MORE

Naomi Klein to write On Fire, a book on creating a blueprint for tackling climate change


Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and syndicated columnist. (Kourosh Keshiri)

Naomi Klein is publishing a new book about climate change. Titled On Fire, the book will examine how bold climate action can be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.

On Fire is scheduled for a Sept. 10, 2019 release.

The Montreal-born Klein is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, political thinker and outspoken advocate regarding climate change and the ills of corporate globalization.

The book’s publisher, Knopf Canada, says Klein makes connections between climate, today’s “unravelling world” and humanity’s past, present and future. MORE

 

Green New Deal: When politics was trumped by the weather


 The original image by Dominik Dancs/Unsplash 

It may be a bigger public investment programme than the Marshall Plan or the moon-shot, but thanks to US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the young people who back her, it may just get through. As an answer to climate change, the Green New Deal is the best humanity has right now. Which means that South Africa could reap the benefits too.

“If everyone is guilty, then no one is to blame,” said Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg at Davos two weeks ago. “And someone is to blame.”

Was this a veiled reference to Nathaniel Rich’s novella-length article “Losing Earth,” in which The New York Times Magazine took the unprecedented step of devoting an entire issue to climate change, ultimately blaming our collective failure to avert its worst effects on “human nature”?

Perhaps. Since rising to prominence in August 2018, the same month that Rich’s piece was published, Thunberg had drawn the attention of climate celebrities who appeared to despise the blamelessness hypothesis as much as she did. Chief among these was the journalist and filmmaker Naomi Klein, who’d laid into Rich for employing the “royal we” in place of the easily identifiable individuals that had been behind the massive increase in carbon emissions since the late 1980s — the fossil fuel executives and their plutocrat enablers, to be specific.

Back in November 2018, Naomi Klein wrote in The Interceptthat the Green New Deal “is not a piecemeal approach that trains a water gun on a blazing fire, but a comprehensive and holistic plan to actually put the fire out”.

She then added: “If the world’s largest economy looked poised to show that kind of visionary leadership, other major emitters — like the European Union, China, and India — would almost certainly find themselves under intense pressure from their own populations to follow suit.” MORE

The Game-Changing Promise of a Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is not a piecemeal approach that trains a water gun on a blazing fire, but a comprehensive plan to transform society for the better.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman-elect from New York, speaks to activists with the Sunrise Movement protesting in the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Nov. 13, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to activists with the Sunrise Movement protesting in the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in Washington D.C., on Nov. 13, 2018. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times via Redux

The draft text calls for the committee, which would be fully funded and empowered to draft legislation, to spend the next year consulting with a range of experts — from scientists to local lawmakers to labor unions to business leaders — to map out a “detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” capable of making the U.S. economy “carbon neutral” while promoting “economic and environmental justice and equality.” By January 2020, the plan would be released, and two months later would come draft legislation designed to turn it into a reality. MORE

We must join forces to save the planet, prominent figures urge

We are a curse on life on Earth, even if often unwittingly so. We’re depriving wild animals of their habitats. We’re wreaking havoc with ecosystems. We’re even changing Earth’s very climate. Unless we mend our ways, and fast, we’ll soon be living on a bleak planet bereft of its once wondrous biodiversity.

So warn 100 prominent academics, politicians, authors and environmental campaigners from across the planet who have signed an open letter that calls on decision makers in powerful nations to start taking meaningful action to try and heal the planet, and life on it, before it’s too late. MORE