In the midst of converging crises, the Green New Deal is the answer

Image result for c d howe

During the Second World War, under the leadership of none other than “minister of everything” C.D. Howe, this country created 28 new crown corporations to manage every aspect of the war effort.

If you’re feeling a mounting sense of apocalyptic unease as you wash your hands and sing “Happy Birthday” for the eighth time this morning, you are not alone.

It is perfectly possible that before 2020 is half over, we will be in a global recession exacerbated by a pandemic and an oil price crash. And it is all playing out against the backdrop of a climate emergency that is proceeding at terrifying speed whether it is on the front pages or not.

But while stock markets veer between fear and greed, some of us find ourselves ricocheting from fear to hope. (And back again.)

Beyond this week’s initial economic package, it is entirely possible that the Trudeau government will soon have to step up with a massive economic stimulus, perhaps one even bigger than a decade ago.

And while U.S. President Donald Trump seizes this crisis moment to bail out his billionaire friends in unsustainable industries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – preparing a budget and searching for a unifying second-term mission – could and should bail out people and the planet instead.

In fact, the response to this period of converging crises is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the federal government to initiate a reset of our economy and society, putting Canada on a path toward zero emissions, and bringing immediate material benefits and enhanced, 21st century universal public services to everyone – prioritizing Indigenous, racialized and working class communities – that is, the people who need them most.

In other words, this is the ideal moment for Canada to launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a sweeping vision launched nationally last spring by more than 150 climate and social justice organizations, building on momentum south of the border from U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise climate movement. Essentially, it recommends an unprecedented public investment in a justice-based transition that creates a vast number of well-paying (preferably unionized) jobs, solves our crises in housing, crumbling infrastructure, health and education, inadequate transit, and deep inequality. This kind of public investment would vastly expand the tax base and stabilize the economy at the same time.

We know this can be done in Canada. During the Second World War, under the leadership of none other than “minister of everything” C.D. Howe, this country created 28 new crown corporations to manage every aspect of the war effort. That’s the level of commitment we need for a rapid shift to a climate-safe and more equal economy.

And we certainly have the resources to do it.

As a Globe and Mail editorial said recently, Canada “can deploy fiscal stimulus worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars, if necessary. And it can borrow at the lowest interest rates in human history, which it can lock in for decades.”

In the midst of all these terrifying and converging disasters, this is perhaps the greatest opportunity – to shatter the shackles of austerity thinking and see the potential for government to do big things, like actually lead a democratic and inclusive response to the climate emergency at the speed and scale that science and justice require.

In a crisis (like a pandemic, an economic meltdown, a climate breakdown, or all of the above at once) people across the ideological spectrum want and expect government to ride to the rescue. While it does so, there is a historic opportunity to heal all kinds of wounds across the land.

Imagine, just for one example, if on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government started painting Alberta in publicly-owned solar panels, creating tens of thousands of jobs that paid prevailing energy industry wages, while enforcing the law of polluter pays to spark a reclamation boom cleaning up a century of oil and gas wells and infrastructure.

The job creation per federal dollar would be exponentially higher than the purchase of a white elephant pipeline. And speaking of which, once we’re all hard at work building the future together – it’ll be a lot less painful to wash our hands of the relics of the past. SOURCE

Avi Lewis is a filmmaker and strategic director of The Leap

Canada’s New Green Deal Can Learn Much From Climáximo’s Climate Jobs Campaign

Climáximo: Climate Jobs Campaign

 

...We [Kevin Buckland  and  Joao Comargo] talked about the role of labor and unions in ecological transitions, how movements can engage with them, and what such collaborations could mean for making deep emissions cuts a reality.

Kevin: Hello Joao, first of all. Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about Climáximo’s Climate Jobs Campaign, how it started and why you think it’s strategic?

Joao: No problem. We started this climate jobs campaign about 3 years ago. At that time we had some people coming over from the UK, where they were running a campaign there, they were based more on unions but we approached them not from a unions standpoint but as a Climate Justice Movement. We thought this could be strategically and politically very relevant because it opened up a series of new possibilities for strategic alliances around a very clear political program in which climate change can be framed not only as potential catastrophe apocalypse, but as a huge opportunity. This is partially how capitalism is framing climate change anyway, as a huge new opportunity to make profits on the collapse, anywhere from the lowering of standards on oil extraction or agricultural production, lowering the value of land for land grabs, and so on. But we want to use [this narrative] the other way around, saying: “This is the greatest challenge civilization has ever faced.” So when they say “If you want to save the climate it will destroy millions or billions of jobs!” we call bullshit and say “It means more jobs than ever!”.

Kevin: What do you see as the main difference to the approach Climáximo is taking with this narrative, in contrast to the climate narrative of capitalism?

Joao:  The main difference is the objective. The goal of these jobs will not be [just] the jobs in themselves – or the wages, but rather what these jobs produce. So we decided to put up the idea of jobs where the main objective is to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The main focus at the moment is mitigation, especially in the global north. In Portugal, we think the issue of mitigation is very important because there is already a more diversified energy mix than other EU countries. Although, it’s all private – the fossil fuels and the renewables and the hydropower. And then eventually we plan to work on adaptation as well, we need to imagine that whole cities will need to be moved 10 or 20 kilometers inland – that’s a lot of work!

Kevin: So in the context of looking beyond just the vague promise of ’jobs’ and towards what those jobs are producing. How do you differentiate between climate jobs and other ‘jobs’?

Joao: We define the main axis of how we define climate jobs – and this is a purely political decision – we would want them to be public or socially owned. (Though being run by the state does not automatically mean that it’s good). They would need to be new jobs, so it isn’t talking about putting a label on jobs that already exist. It has to effectively cut greenhouse gas emissions and would be dignified jobs, with a work contract – not precarious work or temp-agencies or any of these. The objective would be to effectively cut emissions and to prepare workers in the highest polluting emissions sectors to be in the frontline for new jobs. MORE