Is a Green New Deal the answer?

Since the idea of a Green New Deal was taken up by the newly elected, social media savvy US congress woman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez known as AOC, it has generated a huge political debate in the US. On one side are most of the US Democratic presidential hopefuls and the US Sunrise movement, a youth-led climate campaign.  On the other are Republicans, and to some extent unions as they worry about their members’ jobs in a green economy.

This debate has also been taken up in the UK. The Green New Deal was originally launched as an idea here by the New Economics Foundation following the 2008 Crash. When all Governments jointly agreed to boost demand in the April 2009 G20 summit to ‘save the world’, many proposed that fiscal interventions should focus on green expenditure. AOC’s advisers actually took the idea from one of the original NEF authors, Ann Pettifor, when they visited her last year.

So what exactly is a Green New Deal? Can the idea gain political support in the UK, and what would that mean for the ‘quiet consensus’ that has been the main feature of UK climate politics for a decade? Even if it does, is it the answer? Can we spend our way out of climate catastrophe? And would the Green New Deal engage and motivate UK citizens to support climate action?

Ann Pettifor, author, activist and economist, Rebecca Willis, research fellow at Lancaster University and the University of Exeter, and Nick Mabey, economist and CEO of E3G – third generation environmentalism – discussed with a packed audience.

Ann Pettifor

Ann is Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Political Economy Research Centre of City University, London. Her background is in sovereign debt. …

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Rebecca Willis

Rebecca is a researcher with twenty years’ experience in environment and sustainability policy and practice, at international, national and local level. She is a Professor in Practice at Lancaster Environment Centre, …

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Nick Mabey

Nick is Chief Executive and a founder director of E3G (Third Generation Environmentalism) a non-profit European organisation dedicated to accelerating the transition to sustainable development.  In addition to his management role, Nick …

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One Comment on “Is a Green New Deal the answer?”

  1. The 13 Most General Negations to Global-Warming, Over-Population, Disease and Pollution

    Unfortunately no leader in an authoritarian and effective position gives sufficiently enforceable, instructions, directions and orders for stopping the disastrous effects of various factors that are ruining our existence and will do so even more of our descendants. These factors combine in the over-consumption of animals and their products, the misuse of fossil fuels, the wastage of barren productive sites of land, the burning of natural vegetative growth, the use of self-abusive addictive drugs, the spreading of desiese (from ignorance), and the misplacement of single-use plastic containers. These effects cause pollution, disruption and destruction of our planet’s natural bounty. Our situation on earth is becoming so unreasonably and intolerably bad that unless a drastic change is made, future generations will find themselves gasping for the available oxygen, fighting for food, medicines and clean water, even for living-space, and hopefully having to struggle for many, many years to try to restore the existing bio-sphere or surface of our planet to its past stable natural and proper living conditions again.

    So let us all join together in negating:

    # the polluting and burning and wasting and spoiling of our once beautiful earthly natural resources. The day will quickly come when our world suffers the dire effects of the deprivation and loose the greatest part of our burgeoning population from starvation, suffocation, uncured easily transmitted disease and drought. Then we will feel the urgent need for mending our wild, wicked and wasteful ways, only to find that it is too late.

    # the killing of all the whales and other marine mammals, cutting off the fins of sharks, the harpooning, dredging up, catching and filtering out from the seas all the edible or partly edible fish and crustaceans.

    # the spoiling and polluting the rivers and seas, killing all of the remaining inedible fish and sea/river-dependent mammals, with our waste-produced chemicals, uneaten food and plastic rubbish.

    # the burning down all the natural jungles and forests and destroying the other trees too, causing a reduction in the oxygen and an increase in the carbon dioxide freely available.

    # the resulting reductions of ice in the Polar Regions, to raise the sea temperatures and its levels, and to melt the heat-reflecting ice-fields, until the exposed permafrost and hidden lands give up all of their entrapped and heat-enveloping methane.

    # the breeding and eating of great quantities of beef, pigs, goats and sheep (using silage grown on huge tracts of past de-forested land), along with the large amounts of water that they need, until the air is full of their carbon dioxide exhalations and associated methane farts and burps.

    # the cleansing our bodies using the latest toiletry products from profitable palm-oil, grown on land that previously was jungle and which once supported an amazing variety of wild-life that has already become almost extinct.

    # the driving to work along free-ways that multiply the distance between home and workplace, on roads that are asphalted with the remains of the wasted fuel, individually each using life-threatening vehicles that exceed a ton in weight, move at horrendous speeds and guzzle petroleum fuels at rates that will eventually suck the fuel companies dry, whilst filling our cities with fumes, fogs and dirt.

    # the mostly unnecessary need, now that we have the internet means for high-speed communication, of the use of semi-paraffin powered aircraft and diesel fuel driven ships and lorries, that wastefully consume similar kinds petroleum products, for flying and conveying ourselves and our goods long distances at high speeds, only to return (sometimes empty) in a few hours, days or weeks from the starting point.

    # the generation of electrical energy using the mined coal and natural gases, that are taken from the earth, instead of generating this energy without burning, from nuclear-fusion power-plants, solar rays, geothermal heat-sources, the tides and the wind.

    # the building of mammoth ferrous-concrete structures, from materials of which consume large quantities of energy in their production and which on site absorb much water and release much C02 during their setting.

    # the growing ignorance that denies the protection from immunization offered by altruistically minded health organizations against the more commonly transmitted diseases.

    # the waging of such disastrous political demonstrations, uprisings, revolutions and wars, using so many kinds of highly destructive materials and weapons of hatred, that it won’t be long before Mankind finally manages to achieve collective suicide.

    Only then with our help, will our good but proud Heavenly Father (who promised never again to destroy human kind by Himself, as He once tried as described in the Bible), be able to relinquish the idea that He made a bad mistake in creating us with a greedy, selfish and lazy nature (except when we can get something for the least effort–when ambition overcomes sloth), as a collectively long-term suicidal creature. And that, since He has lots of time available, that He should not need to rework the later stages of the evolution process again, for the creation of a different and more sensible type of intelligent creature, which is a little “closer to his image”, or possibly is able to exist on some kinder star? (Perhaps this might be achieved anyway by ourselves, with the introduction of robotic artificial intelligence devices. Is it as if we are already beginning to do this job too, for Him?)

    As John Milton wrote:
    Oh, shame to men! Devil with devil damned
    Firm concord holds, men only disagree
    Of creatures rational, though under hope
    Of heavenly grace; and, God proclaiming peace
    Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
    Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
    Wasting the earth, each other to destroy:
    As if—which might induce us to accord—
    Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
    That day and night for his destruction wait.

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