Naomi Klein on climate strikes, Greta and the Green New Deal

Author Naomi Klein says mass mobilization will be key in fighting climate change. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Listen to the full episode25:59

Millions of climate strikers all across the world took to the streets on Friday — and there’s another major climate protest planned for next Friday, too. Today on Front Burner, we talk to Naomi Klein, author of the new book On Fire: The Burning Case for the Green New Deal about Greta Thunberg, the Green New Deal, and why she thinks mass mobilization around climate change may be the only thing that can help us avoid global warming’s most devastating effects.

“If you don’t believe in social movements, and if they make you kind of queasy and they seem kind of messy, then you should feel really pessimistic, because it’s actually our only hope.” SOURCE

Putting Climate Justice on the Bargaining Table: The Green New Deal & Labour

Image result for labour new green deal climate justice From The Leap: just over one week away from our webinar, Putting Climate Justice on the Bargaining Table: The Green New Deal & Labour!

Sign up here to join us on Tuesday, September 10th at 5pm PT / 8pm ET. Don’t worry if you can’t make it live — if you RSVP, you’ll get a recording by email.

Together with our panelists — labour leaders and organizers Nato Green, Tiffany Balducci, and David Camfield — we’ll be exploring questions like: What political and economic power do unions have? What role can they play in making the Green New Deal a reality? How are unions already putting climate justice demands on the bargaining table, building massive public support and winning unprecedented contract gains?

On September 10th, you’ll get to hear from these three experienced labour leaders and organizers, and ask your own questions about intersections between the labour movement and climate justice.

Join us on Tuesday, September 10th to be part of this conversation — or sign up to receive the recording.

Who owns it? The democratic socialist debate Canada should be having this election

We live in an era of extreme inequality of wealth and power across much of the developed world, and Canada is no exception. Public confidence in political institutions and “political classes” in the West is in long-running decline. The failure of established institutions to grapple adequately with the crises we face is giving way to an environment of growing instability and unease, providing fertile ground for the rise of the far right and delivering the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson into the highest offices.

Yet there is also reason for optimism. The left, too, is in many places also reinvigorated—and quite suddenly bursting with big, bold new policy agendas. This includes, perhaps most visibly, a push for a Green New Deal, crucial in the face of the ticking clock of the climate crisis. But another set of developing policy proposals, relating to the ownership and control of our economy, also deserve our attention.

In the UK and US, transformative policy ideas for economic justice are emerging and starting to move quietly into the political mainstream. These include policies to promote worker ownership and control of companies, breaking up large monopolistic corporations, and an annual wealth tax on the super-rich.

These ideas are being advanced not only by activists and think-tanks, but now also by major political parties and candidates, including the UK’s Labour Party and US Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

These policies are not exclusive to any single ideology, but they could reasonably be called “socialist,” since they centre matters of who owns and controls core economic institutions and wealth. And they could be described as “democratic” because they take a bottom-up approach that would reshape and significantly equalize economic ownership and control. These policies are also, in many cases, extremely popular among voters across the political spectrum.

In short, the policy debate is rapidly being populated with innovative and far-reaching economic proposals of a kind that we should be considering much more seriously in Canada. To that end, let’s take a look at a selection of big policy ideas now on the table south of the border and across the Atlantic, which represent potential starting points for important debates here at home.

[Read the complete article! The headings below are flushed out in the complete article to give you a taste of actions that could lead to a sustainable future.]

  • Putting power and ownership in workers’ hands
  • Inclusive ownership funds
  • Worker representation on corporate boards
  • “Right to own” and worker-owned enterprises
  • Taking on big banks and powerful tech monopolies
  • Financial transactions tax
  • Publicly owned banks
  • Breaking up powerful tech monopolies
  • Getting serious about taxing the rich and corporations
  • Wealth taxes on the super-rich
  • Ending special tax breaks on capital income
  • Taxing corporations like we mean it

Canada needs to think big. Let the debate begin.

This round-up of burgeoning economic policy ideas is far from comprehensive, and these particular proposals are not the final word. What they do represent is a window on an impressive proliferation of bold, left-wing economic thinking that should inform our discourse and debate in Canada. This debate should include other emerging big ideas like a Green New Deal, four-day work week, universal basic income, universal basic services, land value capture and maximum wages, among many others. SOURCE

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez pressure Congress to declare climate change a national emergency

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday to unveil a new resolution that would declare climate change a national emergency.

“There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes,” the bill’s authors wrote. While it does not call for specific action, the legislation states in sharp terms that climate change is a human-made problem that threatens the fortunes of millions of Americans and demands immediate political action.”
The largely symbolic legislation has little chance of making any headway in the Republican-held Senate, but it provides Sanders — who has proposed radical steps to effectively wipe out the fossil fuel industry — with a tangible example of his efforts to take on major problems of particular concern to young voters.
While the Senate resolution originates out of Sanders’ Capitol Hill office, it has obvious implications in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. The Vermont independent has found himself lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a progressive ally who recently rolled out a preview of her vision for the Green New Deal, is surging. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, too, is enjoying a post-debate bump. Sanders and his team have projected confidence despite the bouncing poll numbers, plowing ahead with policy rollouts and proposals designed to highlight his progressive credentials and priorities. MORE
Warren kicks off Midwest swing with plan for what ‘Green New Deal’ might look like

Bill McKibben Talks About “Falter”

“One of the most positive things that’s happening now is the Green New Deal work, and also the school climate strikes—which I hope will spread to adults before long. The spread of the idea about the Green New Deal is a good thing. The more people talk about it and consider it and think about it, the closer we’ll get for people to understand the scale of action that we need. This is a crisis, as big as World War II or the Depression, and so the means that we need to fight it are going to be on the same scale.” — Bill McKibben

The climate action pioneer’s new book explores what it means to be human COURTESY OF NANCIE BATTAGLIA

Journalist and activist Bill McKibben is back with another book about the crushing realities of climate change.

The author of 1989’s The End of Nature, often acknowledged as the first book for a general audience about what used to be known as “the greenhouse effect,” McKibben has been writing about climate issues for three decades.

About 10 years ago, he cofounded, the first “planet-wide grassroots climate change movement.” has organized more than 20,000 rallies across the globe in protest of fossil fuels and has promoted the growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

In Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, out last month from Henry Holt, McKibben surveys the state of havoc caused by climate change, identifies those institutions and individuals that ignore or actively abet it, and turns his attention to new technologies poised to change the very essence of what it means to be human. He also finds a measure of hope for the future, relying on the power of cheap energy and nonviolent resistance.

Sierra recently called up McKibben to discuss climate change, Ayn Rand, and artificial intelligence. MORE


Sorry, Critics Tell Warren, Greening US Empire’s “Powerful War Machine” No Answer to Climate Crisis

“…trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.”

“Fighting the climate crisis is not about enabling the largest and most powerful military in human history to be more efficient in its destructive missions.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday unveiled a climate plan for the U.S. military that was quickly criticized by progressives. (Photo: Elizabeth Warren/Facebook)

Anti-war critics are responding to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new climate “resiliency and readiness” proposal to reform the U.S. military with warnings that trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.

The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be ‘green.'” —Naomi Klein, author and activist

Warren is an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution that was introduced in February, just two days before the Massachusetts Democrat officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign.

Like several other proposals since then, Warren unveiled the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act in a Medium post Wednesday. But unlike many of her other proposals—from breaking up big tech and wiping out student debt to establishing universal childcare—this latest one was met with deep concern, not praise, from progressives.

Naomi Klein @NaomiAKlein

<@ewarren is running a great campaign but when it comes to climate breakdown, this is *not* a plan for that. The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be “green.” The outrageous military budget needs to be slashed to help pay for a Global Green New Deal.

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) May 15, 2019

Klein’s comments were echoed by other critics of Warren’s proposal, who instead called for curbing the Pentagon’s massive carbon footprint “through shrinking the military and ending empire.” Some pointed out that, by contrast, another 2020 candidate and backer of the Green New Deal, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), aims to “meaningfully [confront] imperialism.” MORE


The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos

Young People and Climate Change: Why it’s our Time to Take the Reins

“If the environment is being degraded so that with passing time it produces and supports less, then that impoverishes future generations. It means that the current generation is essentially stealing from the next.” Just as we have issues of justice (or more likely lack thereof) between classes, genders, races, countries – we also have justice between generations–intergenerational justice.

We live at a crossroads in history.

Decades have passed, and people are still saying the same thing. In the 70’s, environmentalists in the baby boomer generation wanted to protect the planet for their grandchildren.

Almost five decades later, and those grandchildren they were talking about had time to be born and grow up, and they’re us.

Carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas responsible for causing climate change via the greenhouse effect, can hang around in the atmosphere for 100 years or more once it gets up there.

This fact of chemistry is what drives the entire issue of intergenerational justice when it comes to climate change.

The last few months of 2018 and early 2019 have seen historic levels of climate activism and public attention. Something seems to have finally shifted.

One of the most inspiring things in the climate space right now is the explosion of youth-led climate activism. From Extinction Rebellion that was recently holding mass protests in London to the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal to the School Strikes for Climate movement – it’s in the air.

School Strike for Climate Young people and climate change
School Strike for Climate march, Melbourne, 30th November 2018. By julian meehan on Flickr, Creative Commons license.

And it’s having an effect. The UK Parliament recently became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.

Across the pond in the US, it’s also the young people that are pushing the climate movement forward.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to be elected to Congress, is making waves by pushing the Green New Deal – an ambitious policy package for transitioning the US to a net-zero economy through a ‘just transition’, investing in infrastructure, jobs and marginalised communities.

This bold proposal – which would have been totally unthinkable just a couple of years ago – is now being pushed right into the mainstream at an astonishing rate. MORE

Sanders Says Biden’s “Middle Ground” Approach to Climate Crisis Would “Doom Future Generations

The message is clear: there is no ‘middle ground’ when dealing with the  climate emergency. Fossil fuel interests will have to stop expansion projects and leave it in the ground.

The Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate said the U.S. must commit to “fully transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels” 

“There is no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2020 presidential candidate. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Without mentioning Joe Biden by name, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday slammed the centrist climate policy reportedly being craftedby the former vice president’s 2020 campaign as a dangerously inadequate approach that would “doom future generations.”

“There is no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy,” the Vermont senator tweeted, quoting from a Reuters report on Biden’s efforts to develop a climate plan that would leave the door open to so-called “fossil fuel options.”

“If we don’t commit to fully transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels, we will doom future generations,” wrote Sanders, who is also a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “Fighting climate change must be our priority, whether fossil fuel billionaires like it or not.”

As Common Dreams reported in April, Sanders won praise from environmental groups after he unveiled a sweeping climate agenda calling for a Green New Deal, an end to oil exports, a complete ban on fracking, and a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

“There is no such thing as a middle ground on climate change.” – Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Charlie Jiang

Environmentalists were not pleased with reports of Biden’s middle-of-the-road approach to confronting the climate crisis, which has pushed a million species to the brink of extinction and threatens the future of human civilization.



Ocasio-Cortez assails Biden’s ‘middle ground’ climate change plan, says it’s ‘dealbreaker’


Degrowth vs. the Green New Deal

Proposals for Green Deals vary in how much they discuss the growth of the economy. Often missing in these discussions is the realization that growth can be life-affirming or result in the destruction of life. It’s a crucial distinction.Image result for new green deal degrowth

The Green New Deal has gone mainstream. The idea is to combine a massive federal job creation program with bold action to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels and protect Indigenous rights. Long a buzzword in the U.S. Green Party, a Green New Deal resolution was introduced in February by insurgent Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’ve solidified its scope and demands. Now, Canadian leftist organizations like Courage are presenting their own proposals for a “Green New Deal of the North.” And in March, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh began voicing support for the Green New Deal idea.

But some are wary of proposals like the Green New Deal – they say that it only “greens” the capitalist imperative of perpetual economic growth, which is the true cause of environmental destruction. [This ignores the reality that growth can be either life affirming OR destructive to the planet.]

Degrowth is mostly an academic movement, focused on challenging mainstream economics. There have been some degrowth policy proposals, but there is not always agreement in the movement about those policies. The Green New Deal, in contrast, is mostly a policy platform. Those who back it and worked on it may be academics and activists, but the focus is on putting together a visionary set of policies.

Here are unique degrowth policies:

  • Degrowth would reduce the working week and support companies to facilitate job sharing between employees.
  • Ecological tax reform, taxing expenditure and polluting activity instead of income. High taxes on income from capital and inheritance.
  • Rehabilitate existing housing stock, with high taxes on empty homes and speculation.
  • Reduce advertising, with strict criteria for advertising in public spaces, like in Grenoble, France.
  • Basic and maximum income.


The Green New Deal’s supporters hope to harness power of narrative with Federal Writers’ Project

The stories we tell us are important.  Stories are a way for Ocasio-Cortez and the plan’s supporters to start to take control of the Green New Deal’s

The ambitious proposal echoes the legendary 1930s-era New Deal project that employed such greats as Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, and Zora Neale Hurston.

[Photos: Hannah Olinger/Unsplash; Daniel Chen/Unsplash; Francisco Gomes/Unsplash]

Any collective plan to avert planetary disaster will first need to harness the full powers of storytelling and mythology if it’s going to stand half a chance. That’s the main lesson of the wildly popular recent video, “A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” a seven-minute film published by The Intercept (and based on an article by Kate Aronoff). Set a couple of decades in the future, it stands as a “flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion,” as the accompanying article by Naomi Klein puts it. Narrated by Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, the film offers a peek at a future in which the Green New Deal has come to pass and Americans are benefiting from its life-affirming roster of policies, from Medicare and jobs to regenerative practices and a climate policy that has helped to stop the planet from burning down.

The film’s creators offer it as the first art project of the Green New Deal, a powerful attempt to bring the plan’s still-vague, shimmering vision on the horizon into focus through an imaginative, futuristic story. It’s also a way for Ocasio-Cortez and the plan’s supporters to start to take control of the Green New Deal’s narrative and to pull us toward its magnetic, aspirational future, after what the congresswoman described as “intensely frustrating” controversies surrounding the legislation’s rollout. “It was done in a way that it was easy to hijack the narrative around it,” she said in an interview with a Yahoo News podcast that aired three days before her “Message From the Future” was released.

It’s this battle of stories, the fight to shape the narrative around the ongoing planetary collapse and our response to it, that will be the defining struggle of the war for a livable planet. It’s humanity’s singular storytelling ability that, unlike any other animal, has allowed us to behave like a super-organism, shaping and guiding our lives over the millennia, binding us through the creation of shared, vitalizing tales and mythologies. Storytelling is our superpower, as everyone from evolutionary biologists to Hollywood and advertising execs can tell us, and as a society we can only change as fast as our collective stories do. This is a topic well-explored in recent books like The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall, and in Silicon Valley-favorite Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Everyone from Obama to Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates has recommended Sapiens, which deals at length with how stories invent the basic “facts” that shape human societies, from nations to money itself (“money is probably the most successful story ever told,” as Harari has put it). “Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or tables, and the simpler the story, the better,” as Harari wrote for the New Yorker in 2016. It is stories that serve as the scaffolding of our material world and “myths give Sapiens the unprecedented ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers,” writes Harari.

Any Green New Deal effort that attempts to change the hearts, minds, and behaviors of hundreds of millions of people will likewise need to harness the full power of this storytelling capacity. As Ocasio-Cortez puts it in the video, “we found our shared purpose,” a shared purpose that will have to be collectively forged through storytelling. It will need to make use of every narrative device at our disposal to keep the story of a living future alive and possible. It’s now clear that it’s going to take far more than numbers and logical exhortations and measurements of per capita and parts per million of CO2 to tell this story in a way that moves us enough to act in time. As is well known by now, the technology to utterly transform and start to heal our physical landscape is already at hand—what’s needed now is the storytelling technology to transform mass consciousness and push it past the tipping point to the point that we’re still able to correct the course of our current apocalyptic trajectory. MORE