The ‘Green’ part naturally refers to applying ‘New Deal’ economics to the climate crisis by putting the economy on a warlike economy footing and moving green economics from the fringe to the center of the economy. The former ‘critical building blocks’ of the economy like auto production, steel and appliances would be replaced by production of wind turbines, solar panels, EVs yes but more importantly public transit, non fossil fuel busses, street cars, and subway cars. Not only the production but the installation of renewables would deliver high quality skilled, hopefully well paid, union jobs. Their paychecks will help underpin a strong economy and simultaneously reduce inequality.
Education and the Green New Deal
I believe most educators are convinced that we are in a climate crisis. This piece is not aimed at those who for financial or political reasons or sheer ignorance continue to deny climate change. It is solution oriented and aimed at the role of education in the promotion of the Green New Deal as probably best articulated in writing by Canada’s own Naomi Klein in her new book, On Fire: The Burning case for a Green New Deal.
Perhaps the best speaker on GND is Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) the charismatic, progressive new member of the US House of Representatives, for NYC.
Most know the ‘New Deal’ aspect of GND dates back to FDR who attempted to mitigate and reverse the unemployment caused by The Great Depression by a heavy dose of classic Keynesian economics, stimulating the economy by government spending on useful projects. The classic example was the Tennessee Valley Authority TVA that built dams on the Ohio river system for flood control and electricity generation.
The original case for a Green New Deal actually came from Canada from well known types like Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis of the famous Lewis clan, as well as many other less well known folks. They, however, called it The Leap and presented it as The Leap Manifesto. It then spread to like minded Americans in The Sunrise Movement and really surfaced when AOC led a movement of Sunrisers to occupy the office of her own leader Nancy Pelosi. They called it The Green New Deal and it was further adopted by the Bernie Sanders campaign. In a more modified form Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren offered support. This has lifted GND to a central place as a key to a Democratic Party economic policy.
The Case for the Green New Deal.
A Massive good Jobs creator,
The greening of the economy is already creating far more good jobs than the fossil fuels industry, which is shedding jobs due to technology. In the past it took 15 oilers to maintain an oil rig. Today it takes two in a shed with laptops with periodic walk arounds and tweaks.
The production, and instillation of renewables like wind and solar added to efficiency (insulation, retrofits, efficient appliances, …) creates full employment at high wages. Although there will be public sector steering, incentives and involvement, like public transit and high speed rail, this is basically a private sector show.
2. Paying for it creates a fairer economy
The financing of it, is based on the concept of ‘polluter pays’ by taxing the 100 major carbon emitters we finance the GND. They need to pay for their replacement, green bonds, ending tax giveaways, international taxation of Google, Apple, shifting carbon subsidies to renewables all underpin the transformation. Add in a 1% billionaires tax and saving the planet creates equity as collateral benefit.
3. Taps the power of emergency
The truth of climate change is that the window for radical change in climate change policy is so small that we must act very quickly that it puts the radical equality agenda on the same timeline.
4. Procrastination proof
The deadlines set by the IPCC that we have such tight timelines means there can be no kicking the can down the road. It must proceed rain or shine.
5. Recession proof
The brilliance of modelling the GND after FDRs New Deal is that it is an answer to any recessions that hit periodically rather than a policy that needs to step back in tough times. As Klein says, in good times people have some time for climate justice but when recession hits, 2007-2008 style, climate action falls in support, as people want action on jobs and income support. This time it is the opposite. Hard times means step up climate change mitigation.
6. A backlash buster
A climate change agenda designed around the advancement of working class people is not vulnerable to a backlash from, for example yellow vesters in France who began their incredible resistance over a carbon tax. A GND would soon be obvious to everyone, boosts blue collar workers rather than beating them down for a ‘greater good’.
7. Creates an army of supporters
The Carbon Majors and Koch types have worked feverishly to enlist working people to defend big oil against the rest of the people. GND reverses the process enlisting a new army of people who simultaneously create a clean sustainable climate and are rewarded with meaningful high paid employment as a benefit.
8. Builds a new alliance and sidelines the Right
When FDR instigated his New Deal, he strategically placed many of the projects like the Civilian Conservation Corps, in rural American which had voted for his Republican opponent. Four years later, many of those communities voted for him and other Democrats. Even those still convinced that climate change is a hoax will realize they just got a good job from that “hoax”
9. You were born for this movement
One of the biggest obstacles is the feeling that it is too late but when people are up to their elbows in actually making the change they want, hopelessness fades, optimism grows, People naturally love a good well paid job, but add the aspect that they are making a big change in creating a better work, their job becomes a mission they are proud of as well. You just can't beat that for transforming people's lives.
What is to be done?
The New Zealand example
Young people like Greta Thunberg are leading the greening of the world and it is their world they are creating. Greta is an incredible young woman but there are thousands of Gretas out there leading climate strikes across the world. The GND movement is a children's crusade in many ways because they will inherit the world we are destroying. This places the schools front and center in the movement. Check out what NZ is already doing in the link below.
Teachers should show students this AOC youtube video below.
I was very happy when my own union OSSTF bought enough copies of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth DVD years ago and sent a copy to every workplace they represented. Today, they should send copies of Klein’s book to every worksite. Teachers unions should invite Klein, Avi Lewis, David Suzuki, or surrogates of the Leap or GND as guest speakers at conventions. Local teacher unions have annual PD days where they control the agenda. Same applies here.
The federations produce ‘supplemental’ materials on many topics curriculum and pedagogy. GND should be the next one.
Boards of education have similar responsibilities. They can run PD and produce materials to understand climate change and offer GND as the solution.
Teachers sit on ministry curriculum committees. They must insist that school science and social science curriculum first tell the truth about climate change and secondly advocate a GND as the solution.
Italy is the first nation to require climate change and responses be taught in schools. In Canada, education is a provincial responsibility but surely NDP-Green BC can do more here to start the ball rolling.
Let’s get moving. There is no time to lose