Also published on Democracy Chronicles
The idea of a Green New Deal (GND) is rapidly sweeping across the western world right now. GND is the concept that aims for a radical effort against the impact of climate change. But it might well end with further political rhetoric, using the climate issue as a hook.
Many have wanted to fill this GND goodie bag with their own political ideals, painting it green hoping that this will bring good luck ... to their own ideology and its popularity. Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, the US Democrats and most recently, the victorious Spanish Social Democrats (PSOE) are among those who have tried to add this concept to their campaigns.
GND was originally (2007) a purely "green-investment-and-job" concept inspired by Roosevelt's New Deal but has since been expanded to include social reforms and subsequently been approved by greens, social democrats and the European left.
The only question is whether or not GND is a new American feel-good story in which economic growth looks green instead of blue, sprinkled with some minor social conscience concessions for those worst off. Or does it actually imply the total conversion of society that is necessary?
According to the autumn message from IPCC, we face the challenge of ending 200 years of fossil fuel use within 30 years. We must halve the emissions by 2030 and reduce them to zero by the middle of the century. Presuming economic growth continues, our energy consumption will triple during that period. Limited fossil fuel emissions, green investments and jobs, clean technology, environmental know-how or the homely intention of Roosevelt will not stop the climate threat. But there also needs to be less consumption and depletion of the Earth's resources. And with such a solution, the number of GND politicians would probably shrink considerably, as the popularity factor would drastically drop!
The word growth, implicitly economic, is what the whole western world is based on. We are told that unless we have growth, we will go under. And since most, perhaps all, of Europe's politicians (for whom climate conscious Europeans are due to vote in the European elections on May 26) choose the road to destruction, it is important to voice the unvarnished truth. The radical change in society needed to decelerate climate change requires a radical policy. The politicians standing alongside the polling stations with seductive claims about welfare and job opportunities, as well as saving the planet, constitute a jokers’ market.
What is needed:
A New Social Structure - A New Economy - Massive Green Investment - A Renovation of Democracy.
In France, the Yellow Vest protests have left Macron politically isolated. Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood – that is the social knot that must FIRST be untangled before green taxes would be accepted. Inequality is about to erode the whole of Europe with immigration problems, poverty and distrust in its trail. Planting green politics in such poisoned soil is the hopeless proposal politicians offer us today.
A serious climate reversal cannot build on financial markets and banks that continue to make money out of nothing by lending and thereby gaining control over entire economies without conscience or democracy. A new economy must be able to withstand less consumption and smaller loans. Stop making things that break in the interest of profit. Stop bombarding people with advertising, creating dependence on lifestyle and status. The whole treadmill must slow down. The economy must adapt to people, not the other way around. A climate reversal requires composure, not rush.
We are faced with an existential crossroads. Not: "And we also need to think about the environment".
Today, everyone loves the climate activists, but it is only a matter of time before the support will subside. Already today, there are mutterings from the right about the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. As time goes on, protests will also come from liberal politicians, the media and the business community, and perhaps also from the conservative left, when the inevitable debate about a serious New Green Deal will gain momentum and the issue is becoming an architectural and cultural one for society and not a political makeover.
The election for the future is not a party issue. It is about choosing between fear and conservatism or courage and progress. Maybe even a choice between activism or politicians who do not want to change until they suffer from the panic Greta Thunberg wishes for.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”