Needed: A Green New Deal

Cliff DuRand
Center for Global Justice
Friday, September 20, 2019

Needed: A Green New Deal
By Cliff DuRand
September 20 -- Today in 175 countries around the world seven million young and old are joining the Global Climate Strike. This is in response to the call from youth to deal seriously with the looming climate catastrophe that threatens to rob them of a livable future. Here in San Miguel we are responding with a 12:00 noon Climate Action for the Future rally in Parque Juarez at the kiosk. Speakers will address environmental challenges we face locally as well as globally. It will be a bi-lingual and bi-national event, preceded by a 10:30am march from Cardo.
Global warming, extreme weather events, climate refugees, melting glaciers and polar ice, species extinction, wildfires all make it hard to deny that nature is out of balance. It is methane and CO2 from the massive burning of oil, gas and coal that has warmed the planet. No longer is it possible to expect neoliberal approaches such as creating markets or voluntary industry standards to address the problem. For 30 years those have been ineffective as the fossil fuel industries rake in profits by polluting the environment.
Now we demand government adopt more radical measures. The renewable energy of the sun and wind must replace fossil fuels to generate electricity, power our industries, run our transportation, heat our homes, etc. This transformation of our society will require massive investments and move us towards more just societies. In many countries, from the US to Canada, UK and Europe, Green New Deals are being proposed – multi year projects on the scale of WWII.
For example, the US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposes a $3 trillion plan paid for by reversing Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy. It includes zeroing out carbon emissions for commercial and residential buildings, as well as most passenger vehicles, in the next decade, switching to renewable electricity by 2035, and creating unionized clean energy jobs.
Bernie Sanders’ plan calls for this and much more with a price tag of $16 trillion in order to reach 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030. Saving the planet won’t be cheap or easy; decades of dawdling by past leaders means that we need radical remedies. The only candidate not supporting a Green New Deal is Donald Trump. In fact, he is an active promoter of climate change.
To declare independence from fossil fuels we need to “keep it in the ground.” That would mean making the transnational petroleum corporations abandon the reserves they depend on for their continued profitability. Obviously that would bring tremendous political push back as well as economic disruption. But a model of how to do that can be seen in Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution which makes the subsoil resources the property of the nation. As a commons, oil can be governed by a state committed to ensuring a livable future for generations to come.
Our generation is at a turning point in human history. We must tackle climate change now or in ten years it will be game over. We have a grave responsibility to give the younger generation a livable future. That is what today’s Global Climate Strike calls us to.