As politicians and other supporters of the Green New Deal in the USA made their voices heard on Capitol Hill in December, Naomi Klein writes:
“The bold moral leadership of newly-elected members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has me feeling more optimistic about our collective chances of averting climate breakdown than I have in years, But a whole lot of things need happen very quickly if the political tide is going to shift in time – including finding new ways to engage the public in this fight”.
She had the opportunity to sit down with one of the few politicians who has consistently focused on this issue — Sen. Bernie Sanders. They spoke at the Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont, this weekend. Sen. Sanders then hosted a ‘town hall’ on climate change with guests including Ocasio-Cortez, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, activist and “Big Little Lies” star Shailene Woodley, climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel, activist and musician Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and Mayor Dale Ross of deep-red Georgetown, Texas.
Colin, as Convenor of the UK Green New Deal Group, welcomes this growing transatlantic awareness and responded to a Times article by The New Economics Foundation’s Miatta Fahnbulleh, headlined: “Britain needs a green new deal to revive its economy after Brexit”.
She spoke of the need to move beyond the old, broken systems and status quo that left many people behind, adding, “A green new deal for the UK could give us just that” and continued:
Climate change has muscled its way back onto the political agenda:
- debated by UK MPs last week for the first time in two years
- with added momentum from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey’s support for a green new deal in the US;
- the audacious climate marches on Westminster by schoolchildren
- and increasingly rising temperatures.
The idea is simple: an unprecedented mobilisation of resources to achieve 100% renewable energy and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions within a decade while creating millions of jobs and lifting living standards.
The question we should be asking is can we get away with not taking action on climate change. If the science is right, then the answer is no. The more that global temperatures rise, the more chaos in the system: more devastating hurricanes, record droughts, extreme floods, coastlines disappearing, food scarcity from loss of crop yields and fisheries — all driving climate-related poverty across the world at a scale we cannot even imagine.
The cost of this, not just in pounds but in human suffering, will far outstrip the cost of any green new deal. And as cartoonist Pett says:
Colin agrees that Green New Deal’s introduction of a massive, costly, yet utterly crucial shift to a lower carbon infrastructure will require widespread public support. Such a programme would be labour intensive, consisting of work that is difficult to automate and so providing a secure career structure for decades. It would include making the UK’s existing 30 million buildings and future new builds energy-efficient and fitted with renewables, plus a concentration on rebuilding local public transport links, making resource use more efficient and developing sustainable local food and agricultural systems.
Most importantly in political and social terms such a Green New Deal approach will generate ‘Jobs in Every Constituency’ including affluent as well as ‘left behind’ areas and so should gain the support of MPs from all political parties.