Is a #GreenNewDeal Possible Without a Revolution? #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #TheDrum #ClimateChange The end of #Neoliberalism #COP24

By Eric Levitz

A Green New Deal is the name of our desire. Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Frederick Douglass wasn’t exaggerating: Power really does concede nothing without a demand — not even a plan to make a plan to prevent the powerful’s own grandkids from perishing in the end-times.

As of few weeks ago, congressional Democrats had no clear vision for how they intended to develop a clear vision for tackling climate change.

The party’s leading 2020 contenders had put forward ambitious policies on health care, housing, criminal justice, the racial wealth gap, child care, wage stagnation, corporate governance reform, and legal ganja — but virtually nothing on the small issue of how to ensure that human civilization outlives Barron Trump.

And then Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrived in Washington — and brought hundreds of activists from the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats along with her.

One month and two occupations of Nancy Pelosi’s office later, the “Green New Deal” has become the hottest idea in Democratic politics.

More than 20 members of Congress have called for a select committee dedicated to developing a draft bill of the Green New Deal.

Chuck Schumer has informed Donald Trump that Democrats will not support any infrastructure bill, unless it’s a green, New Deal-esque infrastructure bill. And the political press is chock-full of headlines like, “How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal’ Might Help Save the Planet,” and “Is the Green New Deal the Only Way Forward?

All of which has led the boldly naïve to ask, “What, exactly, is a Green New Deal?”

The answer will depend on whom you ask.

To the median Democrat, a Green New Deal is just a fancy name for an infrastructure bill that includes significant investments in renewable energy, and climate resiliency.

To the progressive think tank Data for Progress, it’s a comprehensive plan for America to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, through a combination of massive public investment in renewables, smart grids, battery technology, and resiliency; turbocharged environmental regulations; and policies that promote urbanization, reforestation, wetland restoration, and soil sustainability — all designed with an eye toward achieving full employment, and advancing racial justice.

But to the American left’s most utopian reformists, the Green New Deal is shorthand for an ambition even more sweeping.

More precisely, it is a means of conveying their vision for radical change to a popular audience, by way of analogy.

Eighty years ago, the United States was faced with a malign force that threatened to eradicate the possibility of decent civilization.

We responded by entrusting our elected government to reorganize our economy, and concentrate our nation’s resources on nullifying the Axis threat.

In the process, America not only defeated fascism abroad, but consolidated a progressive transformation of its domestic political economy.

The war effort affirmed the public sector’s competence at directing economic activity, fostered unprecedented levels of social solidarity — and, in so doing, banished laissez-faire from the realm of respectable opinion.

In the course of a decade, ideas from the far-left fringe of American thought became pillars of Establishment consensus: Very serious people suddenly agreed that it was legitimate for the state to enforce collective bargaining rights, impose steeply progressive income taxes, administer redistributive social programs, subsidize home ownership, and promote full employment.

The New Deal ceased to be a single president’s ad hoc recovery program, and became a consensus economic model.

An unprecedented contraction in economic inequality ensued; the most prosperous middle-class in human history was born.

Many contemporary leftists believe this history is worth repeating: Just as the fight against fascism facilitated a democratic transition from laissez-faire to Keynesian liberalism, so the fight for climate sustainability can shepard America out of neoliberalism, and into ecofriendly, intersectional, democratic socialism.

“The last time we had a really major existential threat to this country was around World War II, and so we’ve been here before and we have a blueprint of doing this before” Ocasio-Cortez told supporters in October. “What we did was that we chose to mobilize our entire economy and industrialized our entire economy and we put hundreds of thousands if not millions of people to work” — a mobilization that the congresswoman-elect sees as “a potential path towards a more equitable economy with increased employment and widespread financial security for all.”

The climate journalist Kate Aronoff offers this portrait of the future Green New Dealers want:

IT’S THE SPRING of 2043, and Gina is graduating college with the rest of her class. She had a relatively stable childhood. Her parents availed themselves of some of the year of paid family leave they were entitled to, and after that she was dropped off at a free child care program.

Pre-K and K-12 were also free, of course, but so was her time at college, which she began after a year of public service, during which she spent six months restoring wetlands and another six volunteering at a day care much like the one she had gone to.

Now that she’s graduated, it’s time to think about what to do with her life. Without student debt, the options are broad. She also won’t have to worry about health insurance costs, since everyone is now eligible for Medicare. Like most people, she isn’t extraordinarily wealthy, so she can live in public, rent-controlled housing — not in the underfunded, neglected units we’re accustomed to seeing in the United States, but in one of any number of buildings that the country’s top architects have competed for the privilege to design, featuring lush green spaces, child care centers, and even bars and restaurants.

….For work, she trained to become a high-level engineer at a solar panel manufacturer, though some of her friends are going into nursing and teaching. All are well-paid, unionized positions, and are considered an essential part of the transition away from fossil fuels, updates about which are broadcast over the nightly news.

This vision is compelling — and, on a substantive level, so is Ocasio-Cortez’s historical analogy. In the long run, climate change surely poses as great a threat to the United States (and to liberal democratic governance) as the Nazis ever did. And a rational response to the climate threat quite clearly requires a drastic expansion of state-economic planning, and thus, an overhaul of the American political economy — so, while we’re renovating things, why not install that Nordic welfare state we’ve been eyeing, take down some of the hideous structures white supremacy built, and pare back that overgrown financial industry?

But when viewed through a strictly political lens, the analogy breaks down.

The Axis powers posed an immediate threat to many American capitalists, and their overseas investments — while U.S. victory in the war promised corporate America a bonanza. This self-interest dampened corporate resistance to FDR’s mobilization of the war economy, which itself massively increased the leverage of American labor. Securing global hegemony for American capital required victory, and victory required maintaining labor peace in a context of full employment. Unions could deliver the latter, and thus, were in a position to demand concessions. With that leverage, they secured “maintenance of membership” rules that allowed them to count all new employees at unionized plants as members, and immediately charge them dues; as a result, a record-high 35.5 percent of the nonagricultural labor force was unionized by 1945.

By contrast, climate change poses less of an immediate threat to America’s contemporary economic elites than the Green New Deal does.

The Koch Network fears the euthanasia of the fossil fuel industry — and confiscatory top tax rates — a lot more than rising sea levels.

Thus, corporate resistance to World War II–esque state-led mobilization to combat climate change (let alone, an avowedly socialist one) is certain to be immense. And given the conservative movement’s tightening grip over the federal judiciary, and red America’s increasingly disproportionate influence over state governments and the Senate, Green New Dealers would need to defeat near-unanimous corporate opposition on a playing field sharply tilted to their rivals’ advantage.

Further, replicating FDR’s model will take more than just winning power. Consolidating the New Deal order required the Democratic Party to maintain continuous control of the White House for two decades.

Considering the contemporary partisan alignment — and existence of presidential term limits — it seems unlikely that a pro-Green New Deal governing coalition would retain power long enough to turn core aspects of its radical agenda into pillars of a new bipartisan consensus.

None of this is to suggest that the Green New Deal isn’t a worthwhile ideal.

In an era replete with dystopias, and starved for futures to believe in, Aronoff’s (modest) utopia is a welcome intervention. Rather, my intention is merely to spark discussion of the following question: If persuading a couple dozen Democrats to support a select committee to draft a Green New Deal (which many of them understand as a little more than a climate-centric infrastructure stimulus) took repeatedly occupying Nancy Pelosi’s office, what will it take to institutionalize 100 percent renewable social democracy atop the ruins of the fossil fuel industry?

In lieu of an answer to that daunting query, let me offer a take on (what I believe to be) a related one.

Earlier this week, Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress asked (in so many words) why certain progressives were cheering the yellow vests protests in France.

And on one level, Tanden’s bafflement was justified. There’s little doubt that significant portions of the French protest movement are deeply reactionary, on questions of both climate policy and immigration. And regardless of the Marcon regime’s broader failings and provocations, the fact that an ambitious effort at carbon pricing was met with an insurrection is sure to weaken the hand of anyone pushing for similar policies in other countries.

And yet, the yellow vest protests didn’t just demonstrate that carbon taxes can provoke popular backlash (at least, when paired with austerity and tax breaks for the rich) — they also served as a reminder that it is still possible for ordinary people to change political realities within their governing institutions, by practicing politics outside of them. Grassroots, social-media-powered political organizing can fuel reactionary movements and genocides; but it can also trigger teachers’ strikes.

We’re going to need carbon taxes to get where Green New Dealers wish to take us. But we’ll also need a dash of mass civil disobedience (or at least, a million millennial march or two).

Press link for more: NYMAG

Advertisements

The Future of Water

msamba

The world’s supply of cheap and clean fresh water will likely plummet as the climate warms and populations boom. Can we find ways to conserve, cut waste, and find new sources before it’s too late?

The latest installment of our What Happens Next series looks for solutions in an unlikely spot: a city perched on the edge of the world’s oldest desert. For the residents of Windhoek, Namibia, the arid future arrived long before the growing freshwater crisis made headlines around the world.

And this city responded to worsening cycles of drought by tapping water resources from a radical source that was already on hand: wastewater from their own city sewers. And while the technology for building a toilet-to-tap management system isn’t new, the mindset required to do here offers a lesson to any city facing an increasingly arid future.

View original post

(CALIFORNIA) #ClimateChange Study 1980’s – 2018: Researchers who studied the winter snowfall in the mountains there revealed that rising temperatures are reducing the period during which snow is on the ground in the mountains – snow that millions rely on for their fresh water #AceNewsDesk reports

Easy to see climate change

Ace News Services

#AceNewsReport – Dec.13: Snowy mountain winters are being “squeezed” by climate change, according to scientists in CaliforniaThey presented their findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting – the world’s largest gathering of Earth and space scientists……….“Our winters are getting sick and we know why,” said Prof Amato Evan, from the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, who carried out the investigation. “It’s climate change; it’s rising temperatures #AceNewsDesk reports


NASASatellite images from 2002 (left) compared with 2017 (right) highlight the decreasing snowpack……………………Prof Evan studied the annual cycle of snow and melt in the western US from the early 1980s to 2018 

Mountains in California (c) Amato EvanAmato Evan/ScrippsCalifornia relies on snowmelt for its fresh water supply: He found that the length of time snow is on the ground there is continually “being squeezed” into a shorter period. And the early arrival of summer, he explained…

View original post 320 more words

Scientists warn about international inaction on climate change

nuclear-news

Window is narrowing’: scientists urge action at UN climate talks, Guardian, Jonathan Watts in Katowice, Wed 12 Dec 2018

Gilet jaunes protests cast shadow as concerns raised over backlash against rapid change 
Scientists have laid down the gauntlet for political leaders as the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, wrestles with the challenge of cutting emissions without sparking social tensions like those seen recently in France.The UN climate talks – known as COP24 and the most important since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015 – aim to set a new rulebook for governments to reduce greenhouse gases and to raise ambitions, after warnings of dire consequences if global warming rises more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The climate crisis is already here and the risks are growing, said Hoesung Lee, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who led a study by thousands of scientists on ways…

View original post 270 more words

The EU, Canada, New Zealand, and scores of developing countries to strengthen their climate change commitments

nuclear-news

Climate change talks result in renewed pledge to cut emissions, EU, Canada, New Zealand and developing countries to keep global warming below 1.5C  Guardian, Fiona HarveyBen Doherty and Jonathan Watts in Katowice,  13 Dec 2018 

The promise, which follows increasingly dire scientific warnings, was the most positive message yet to come from the ongoing talks in Poland.

The announcement came at the end of a day in which the UN secretary general made an impassioned intervention to rescue the talks, which have been distracted by US, Russian and Saudi moves to downgrade scientific advice.

“We’re running out of time,” António Guterres told the plenary. “To waste this opportunity would compromise our last best…

View original post 563 more words

UN Secretary-General “ #ClimateChange is a matter of life” #auspol #qldpol #COP24 #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #TheDrum

Secretary-General’s remarks at the closing of the High-Level Segment of the Talanoa Dialogue, COP-24 [as delivered]

Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

In my opening statement to this conference one week ago, I told you that this was the most important COP since the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

I warned that climate change is running faster than we are and that Katowice must—in no uncertain terms—be a success, as a necessary platform to reverse this trend.

To achieve it, I said that ambition and compromises were both needed. Never have the stakes been higher.

I left Katowice hopeful, but uncertain.

While I was away, three more reports were added to the long list of warnings signals:

A Special WHO report on impacts to health due to climate change;

A UN Environment Programme report which highlights the opportunities for reducing emissions in the construction sector; and

NASA’s research on the first signs of significant melting of glaciers in East Antarctica.

Returning to Katowice, I see that despite progress in the negotiating texts much remains to be done.

And today, the Presidency is presenting a text as new basis for negotiations.

I’d like to thank the Polish Presidency for its efforts.

I understand it takes an enormous amount of energy and work to organize such a conference.

I also understand the weight of responsibility that this COP carries.

There can be no doubt that it is a moment of truth.

In this regard, key political issues remain unresolved.

This is not surprising—we recognize the complexity of this work. But we are running out of time.

Today, it is only fitting that we meet under the auspices of the Talanoa Dialogue.

I’d like to thank Fiji for initiating this Dialogue.

It’s no coincidence they’re the ones who established the process to discuss ambition to meet a 1.5C° goal.

Small Island States know better than any of us the importance of meeting that goal.

As I said in my opening remarks, for people living on those islands, climate change isn’t a theoretical exercise about the future – it’s a matter of life and death today.

Talanoa’s spirit is exactly how we can achieve a successful result in these last crucial days of COP24.

It is defined by openness, driven by optimism, and focused not on political differences, but on the collective well-being of those living on this planet.

And let me be open and transparent.

The IPCC Special Report is a stark acknowledgment of what the consequences of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees will mean for billions of people around the world, especially those who call small island states home.

This is not good news, but we cannot afford to ignore it.

Excellencies,

Over the last 10 days, many of you have worked long, hard hours and I want to acknowledge your efforts.

But we need to accelerate those efforts to reach consensus if we want to follow-up on the commitments made in Paris.

The Katowice package needs to deliver the Paris Agreement Work Program, progress on finance and a strong basis for the revision of National Determined Contributions under the Talanoa Dialogue.

These three components are linked by one central idea—boosting ambition.

Ambition when it comes to predictable and accessible financial flows for the economic transition towards a low-emission and climate-resilient world.

Ambition with respect to climate action.

And ambition with respect to developing a flexible but robust set of rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Let us start by finance.

The financial obligation from developed countries to support efforts of developing countries was established in the Convention when it was adopted in 1992—more than 25 years ago.

It’s very difficult to explain to those suffering from the effects of climate change that we have not managed to find predictable support for the actions that must be taken.

But there is some good news.

Sir David Attenborough “Time is running out”

https://youtu.be/b6Vh-g0oZ9w

The World Bank announced a new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current 5-year investments to US$ 200 billion, both in mitigation and adaptation, in support for countries to take ambitious climate action.

Here at COP24, Multilateral Development Banks announced the alignment of their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement and in line with the science-based evidence identified by the IPCC.

It represents US$ 35 billion in developing and emerging economies with an additional leverage on US$ 52 billion from private and public sources.

And before the COP, we saw a new Investor Agenda, as well as, for example, an announcement by ING that it would set science-based targets to shift its lending portfolio towards a low-emission future.

These private sector actors are making important progress because they recognize the seriousness of the climate challenge we face and the opportunities related to addressing it.

Failing here in Katowice would send a disastrous message to those who stand ready to shift to a green economy.

So, I urge you to find common ground that will allow us to show the world that we are listening, that we care.

Developed countries must scale up their contributions to jointly mobilize US$100 billion annually by 2020.

And we need to strengthen the Green Climate Fund.

Germany’s pledge to double its contribution in the current replenishment process is a very positive sign that I hope will inspire others to do the same.

I have appointed the President of France and Prime Minister of Jamaica to lead the mobilization of the international community, both public and private, to reach the target of US$ 100 billion in the context of the preparation of the Climate Summit I have convened in September of next year.

Second, the rulebook.

I just arrived from Marrakech.

It reminded me that the deadline to finalize the Paris Agreement Work Program was not one that was imposed upon Parties by anyone—it was a deadline Parties imposed upon themselves at COP22, precisely in Marrakech.

Both the Convention and the Paris Agreement recognize that countries have different realities, different capacities and different circumstances.

We must find a formula that balances the responsibilities of all countries.

This will allow us to have a regime that is fair and effective for all.

To achieve this, and to build the trust that everyone is doing their fair share, we need to have a strong transparency framework to monitor and assess progress on all fronts: mitigation, adaptation and provision of support, including finance, technology and capacity building.

I am aware that this issue is also technically complex and many linkages across different parts of the texts are being considered.

But I have confidence that you will find a way to overcome those challenges.

Third: climate action.

Today, Katowice is the hub of global climate action. The eyes of the world are on us. And more than 32,000 people have come here to find solutions to climate change.

They are inspired, engaged and they want us to deliver. They want us to finish the job.

Katowice must be, Mr. President, the dawn of a new determination to unleash the promise of the Paris Agreement.

We clearly have the know-how and the ability to reach 1.5C.

We see incredible momentum from all segments of society to lower emissions and make the transition from the grey economy to the green.

We have the ways.

What we need is the political will to move forward.

As the IPCC Special Report indicates, the intersection between State and non-State is essential to reaching our climate goals.

This Talanoa Dialogue is an example of how this can all come together.

The IPCC report outlined a catastrophic future if we do not act immediately.

It also clearly states that the window of opportunity is closing.

We no longer have the luxury of time.

That’s why we need to have our work here in Katowice finalized—and finalized in less than three days.

Meeting your deadline means we can immediately unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement and its promise of a low-emissions climate-resilient future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I understand that none of this is easy. I understand some of you will need to make some tough political decisions.

But this is the time for consensus. This is the time for political compromises to be reached. This means sacrifices, but it will benefit us all collectively.

I challenge you to work together for that purpose.

I challenge you to accelerate and finish the job.

And to raise ambition on all fronts.

To waste this opportunity in Katowice would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change.

It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.

This may sound like a dramatic appeal, but it is exactly this: a dramatic appeal.

Let us then carry forth the spirit of the Talanoa Dialogue in these crucial next few days and let us heed its messages.

It’s about more than the future of each country.

I have three young granddaughters. I will not be here at the end of the century. The same probably applies to all of you.

I do not want my granddaughters or anybody else’s to suffer the consequences of our failures.

They would not forgive us if uncontrolled and spiraling climate change would be our legacy to them.

Thank you. 

Press link for more: UN.ORG

‘Sprint to the election’: Anti-Adani groups target Labor #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #TheDrum Demand a #GreenNewDeal #COP24 #ClimateChange

An alliance of groups opposed to the proposed Adani coal mine are stepping up their campaign, targeting Labor leader Bill Shorten ahead of his party’s national conference starting this weekend.

The Stop Adani Alliance – which claims two million supporters among its 38 member groups – will on Thursday unleash an advertising campaign and release polling showing four in five respondents want the government to intervene to stop the project.

More of this to come: Adani protesters confront Labor leader Bill Shorten and the Federal Member for Batman Ged Kearney in March this year.

Photo: AAP

The first of a three-phased strategy will involve a so-called “summer of action”, aimed at pressing federal Labor to shift its ambiguous stance on the mine, which has the potential to open up the huge new coal province in Queensland’s Galilee Basin if it proceeds.

Mobile billboards will buzz the ALP’s National Conference in Adelaide, while organisers within the event will try to raise the Adani issue during Sunday’s debate on Labor’s climate platform.

Phase two will involve a “sprint to the election”. “We will make stopping Adani the number one issue in what will be the climate election,” John Hepburn, executive director of the Sunrise Project, said.

“If there was ever a time to demonstrate Labor’s commitment to do what it takes to protect Australians from the worsening impacts of climate change, now is it.”

March for Our Future to stop Adani, held in Brisbane.

Photo: Supplied

A third phase would focus on pressing the newly elected federal government – the elections are expected in May – to move against the mine within its first 100 days of office.

Last month, Adani’s chief executive Lucas Dow, said the company would self-fund the construction of a scaled-down version of the mine after failing to secure funds from elsewhere.

“Commencement of works are imminent,” an Adani spokeswoman said, declining to specify a date.

Last month, Mr Shorten said of Adani: “We don’t know what they’ll be up to by the time we get into government. So we’ll deal with facts and the situation [related to Adani that] we’re presented with if we win the election in 24 weeks’ time…We’ll be guided by the best science and the national interest.”

Mr Shorten also last month launched Labor’s plan to revive the National Energy Guarantee as a key plank in its election platform. The Herald understands an original plan to release the rest of Labor’s emissions plans – such as how agriculture and industry’s carbon pollution would be treated – will now not be released until after January.

The Alliance’s national ReachTel poll of 2345 conducted on December 4 found 56 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement: “Digging new coal mines in Australia is no longer in the national interest”.

Among those self-described as Labor supporters, 80.2 per cent agreed or strongly agree with the statement, compared with about 24 per cent of Liberal and 28.6 per cent of National voters.

On the question of whether the federal government should review the environmental approvals for Adani, about 92 per cent of Labor supporters agreed, as did about 52 per cent of both Liberal and National voters, the poll found.

Press link for more: SMH

We Have To Make Sure the “#GreenNewDeal” Doesn’t Become Green #Capitalism #auspol #qldpol #COP24 #ClimateChange #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #TheDrum

A conversation with Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson.

Incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made waves in late November when she called for a Green New Deal (GND)—a plan to “transition” the U.S. economy to “become carbon neutral” over the course of 10 years.

In adraft resolution, she proposes the formation of a Select Committee to develop a plan for massive public works programs, powered by a jobs guarantee and public banks, with the goal of “meeting 100 percent of national power demand through renewable sources.”

According to Ocasio-Cortez, the plan aims to eliminate poverty, bring down greenhouse gas emissions, and “ensure a ‘just transition’ for all workers, low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous communities, rural and urban communities and the front-line communities.”

The GND is still in its nascent phase, and concrete details haven’t yet been hashed out, but the proposal has received backing from the youth climate organization, the Sunrise Movement, which staged direct actions and protests to build political support for the framework.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is throwing his political weight behind the plan and 35 House members have endorsed it.

Ocasio-Cortez—who identifies as a democratic socialist—is poised to lead the progressive conversation about climate change at the federal level.

Yet, some climate justice organizations are responding with more cautious support.

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), a network of front-line environmental justice organizations, including the Southwest Workers Union and Black Mesa Water Coalition, praised the GND as “a much-needed aggressive national pivot away from climate denialism to climate action.” But CJA said in a statement released earlier this week that “the proposal for the GND was made public at the grasstops [as opposed to grassroots] level. When we consulted with many of our own communities, they were neither aware of, nor had they been consulted about the launch of the GND.”

While the GND is in its developmental phase, the Climate Justice Alliance says it is critical for social movement groups to fight for the best possible version of the deal—and ensure that it does not include false solutions such as “carbon markets, offsets and emissions trading regimes or geoengineering technologies.”

CJA says any jobs plan should restore and protect workers’ rights to organize and form unions, and it should be predicated on non-extractive policies that build “local community wealth that is democratically governed.”

Any deal must ensure “free, prior and informed consent by Indigenous peoples,” CJA insists, and should be directed by those communities bearing the brunt of the “dig, burn, dump” economy.

In These Times spoke with Kali Akuno, director of the CJA-affiliated Cooperation Jackson, a Missisippi-based group that aims to build a “solidarity economy” that is “anchored by a network of cooperatives and worker-owned, democratically self-managed enterprises.”

According to Akuno, movements must defend the best components of the GND, while challenging–and offering alternatives to–the capitalist logic embedded in some of its proposals. “While this is still in the drafting phase,” he argues, “let’s get it as near perfect as we possibly can.”

Kali Akuno

Kali served as the Director of Special Projects and External Funding in the Mayoral Administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, MS. His focus in this role was supporting cooperative development, the introduction of eco-friendly and carbon reduction methods of operation, and the promotion of human rights and international relations for the city. 

Sarah Lazare: What do you think of proposal for a Green New Deal put forward by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Kali Akuno: One, I’m glad that something like this is being introduced and is being discussed so widely, particularly coming from a freshman congresswoman. I don’t think that’s insignificant at all. I’m excited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even had the courage to take this up. Let’s be real: To walk in as a freshman congresswoman in this environment and atmosphere, she should be applauded.

Is it perfect, is it everything we want? Absolutely not. To a certain extent, that’s fine. She has to play ball in the balance of power as it concretely exists. The broad public debate that the introduction of the Green New Deal proposal has generated presents an opportunity for the Left to strengthen our forces, gather new forces and expand the base of the movement. Her putting this forward is a profound opportunity for the Left.

I think the Left needs to seize it. We can do that by talking about it: the things we support, why we support them, the things we want to see strengthened, improved and changed. We should communicate that as far and wide as we can. We have to shift the conversation and put the Right on the defensive. Right now, they’re on the offensive.

We need to critically analyze some of the shortfalls of the capitalist logic embedded in this plan. We have to push back and improve upon the Green New Deal. In a real practical and concrete way, the Left has to intervene.

Dismissing it and not having a dialogue and talking just about how it’s imperfect is not good enough. If we believe there is a limited time to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we have to seize every opportunity to educate people, create the policy framework, and to take action to implement it on the ground in real time. We need to talk about it, raise awareness and build a base for our point of view. Let’s use the platform her winning the election has provided to move people and to take action.

Sarah: What should a left intervention look like?

Kali: Let me get to the heart of it. Because of the capitalist logic that’s embedded in what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has put forth, at this point, the Left needs to intervene.

We need to be putting out and elevating the counter-proposals many of us have been putting forward. There is the “just transition” framework coming out of some social movements and organized labor. There are some concrete suggestions many of us have been putting forward for years. Healing the soil, reintroducing small-scale agriculture, restoring the commons, making more space available for wildlife reintroduction. This has been coming from the It Takes Roots Alliance, which consists of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Climate Justice Alliance, the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the Right to the City Alliance. On the ground, organizations from oppressed communities have been putting forward a just transition for a while.

Representatives from It Takes Roots are opening a dialogue with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office. Our aim is to lift up our demands and concrete solutions and have them constitute core components of the legislation that she puts forward. We’re seeing the beginning of an opening in that regard.

While this is still in the drafting phase, let’s get it as near perfect as we possibly can.

Sarah: What needs to be improved?

Kali: There are some things in the framework that she put forth that need to be challenged. The one that I always highlight is this notion that the different types of solutions that are developed through the entrepreneurial innovations that come out of this program, like renewable energy technologies, that the U.S. government and major transnational corporations should be exporters of this energy and knowledge. That’s deeply embedding this thing as a new export industry, which is a new cycle of capital accumulation. That part really needs to be challenged. This is trying to embed the solution in market-based dynamics, but the market is not going to solve this problem.

Editor’s note: In her draft text calling for a committee on the Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez includes the following objective, to be accomplished within 10 years of the plan’s implementation: “making ‘green’ technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely greenhouse gas neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal.”

Sarah: U.S. industries have played tremendous and disproportionate role in driving climate change. It seems predatory for those industries to develop “solutions” and then turn around and sell them to the Global South.

Kali: Yeah, it’s this logic of, I created the problem, I control the resolution of the problem through various mechanisms, I play a big role in preventing any serious motion that might happen at the level of intergovernmental exchange through the United Nations—under Obama, and now under 45. I set it up so that we come up with these technology solutions—some are pure scientific fiction–come up with a few carbon sequestration solutions, and I’m going to charge exorbitant rates selling technology to the Global South. Primarily Trump, the United States and western Europe created the problem and prevent anyone from coming up with solutions. They come up with market solutions and sell them back to us through force.

We need to struggle with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others about this. We have to frame this in a way that really speaks to the global nature of the problem. We have to include the peoples of the world at the frontlines of the transition in the discussion to resolve it – Indigenous peoples, the peoples of Oceania, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the African continent. It’s not just a national problem. The way this is framed is really as if we’re going to stop certain problems within U.S. borders. But carbon emissions don’t observe national boundaries—they never have and never will. Nation-state policy limits us in certain ways. That’s another aspect of this that we have to push back on and challenge. This has to include front-line communities in the United States and from all throughout the world.

Sarah: What would the ideal global climate policy look like? What do you think about the framework of reparations?

Kali: Reparations is one of the key aspects that has to be introduced into the dialogue. The United States has, under all administrations, blocked this kind of approach. It is not new to Trump. The concept of reparations needs to be introduced into several different levels of the conversation. You can think of reparations in terms of financial compensation, and you can think of it in terms of decolonization—returning lands back to indigenous and colonized people subjected to the United States and Western Europe much of the past 500 years.

The market-based capitalist extractive system has been highlighted through the World Trade Organization. You have intellectual patents that are being codified into law through the WTO, which the United States and Western Europe have pushed on the world. If we look at Monsanto, they basically took agricultural practices and indigenous knowledge, codified it with their technology of splicing genes, and now have power and control over it. Patents need to be abolished and dissolved and we need to open up space in many areas for small farmers like those aligned with the global peasant movement, La Via Campesina, to return to traditional practices of growing food. That is a major form of reparations: repairing harm that’s been done.

Sarah: What about the fossil fuel industry? Should we be talking about going to battle with the industry? Shutting it down?

Kali: There is no question about it. That has to be target number one. We have to adopt a program of “keep it in the ground.” There is no way to get around that. That’s a demand coming from Indigenous communities. If we just look at the raw science, all the raw data that is out there, that’s what we need to do. We’re locked into an old exploitative logic that is only maintained through the grip the petrochemical companies have on the political process. We are going to have to take them on head on.

What happened at Standing Rock really points the way forward for the future. I don’t think we should hide from that or step away from that. We’re going to have to take direct action on a massive scale to shut that industry down on an international level. There are a ton of alternatives that could be scaled up—solar, wind—and they need to be scaled up.

To think that they can keep pumping and drilling, and we’ll just phase them out with alternatives, on the basis of some kind of market logic, is not going to work. There is no question that we need to adopt a “keep it in the ground” policy—like, yesterday. That has to be one of our central demands.We have to scale up our campaigns against the oil companies, and we have to win. This is a necessary political struggle.

Sarah: Can you talk more about the concept of a “just transition”—where it comes from, what it’s calling for?

Kali: Just so folks know, the term comes out of the labor movement in the 1980s, particularly some folks who were working in labor sectors, including the petrochemical and thermonuclear industries. The concept was adopted to say that our interests around having a clean and safe environment, and your interest in having a living-wage job, are not and should not be opposed. There is a system in place keeping us at odds with each other in the short term. We have to change the system. A key part is taking care of our communities, making sure that the overall impacts of toxic contamination are thoroughly addressed. There has to be a way in which new jobs are created that enable workers to go through a just transition from one set of skills to another set of skills and maintain a high standard of living.

For Cooperation Jackson, which is part of the It Takes Roots Alliance, we fully endorse the just transition framework. This means highlighting grassroots, independent solutions in front-line communities: programs centering on reparations, decolonization and building a democratic economy through the advancement of the social and solidarity economy. For us at Cooperation Jackson, this is linked to a program of eco-socialist development. We are going to have to ultimately do a major overhaul in how things are produced, distributed, consumed and recycled back into the natural resource systems that we depend on. If we don’t think about just transition in a long-term, holistic way, we are missing the point. To think we can make some tweaks to capitalism or expansive “carbon neutral” production—that is also missing the point.

To address our deep problems, we have to shift wealth and power—it has to be moved from the United States and Europe to the rest of the world. We know we are going to run into a great deal of resistance from corporations and governments. We want to include that in our narrative of what a just transition entails.

Right now, as we speak, the COP24 climate talks are happening in Poland, and there are workers there in the coal industry who are trying to appropriate the term “just transition” to say “clean coal” is part of the just transition, which is contrary to the spirit and letter of the concept, especially knowing how that industry is contributing to the crisis we are in.

Sarah: What do you think about the Green New Deal’s call for a jobs guarantee?

Kali: It excites me, because I could see the immediate benefits here in my community in Jackson, Mississippi. That would create a lot of jobs for the young people in my community for the people who are chronically unemployed and underemployed. However, we should push for this plan with open eyes. There’s a limit to how many jobs could be created and how long they could be sustained. At a certain point, the logic of expansion has to run its course and end. You have to go back to eco-socialism. There need to be limits we impose on ourselves. We can’t just keep extracting minerals out of the earth—we’re going to have to figure out some natural limits to live in. I would like to see more of that infused into the Green New Deal: real conversations about our natural limits and how to create a truly sustainable system, so that we don’t exhaust all of the earth’s resources and deprive them to future generations. We have to start thinking about that now.

Sarah: Among other things, the Green New Deal calls for new investment in public banking. The draft text reads, “Many will say, ‘Massive government investment! How in the world can we pay for this?’ The answer is: in the same ways that we paid for the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs, the same ways we paid for World War II and many other wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments, new public banks can be created (as in WWII) to extend credit and a combination of various taxation tools (including taxes on carbon and other emissions and progressive wealth taxes) can be employed.”

What do you think of this public banking component?

Kali: We are big-time supporters of public banking. We’ve been thinking of that in relation to the implementation of the Jackson-Kush Plan going back 10 years, and we’re still trying to figure out how to put it in practice on the municipal level. I’m excited to see it embedded in Green New Deal proposal. Without that, you won’t have certain kinds of capital controls over the process. But we need to make sure there’s going to be sufficient investment in communities. I don’t think enough of the Left is really talking about it.

Some people will say public banking is just another reform measure in the logic of capitalism. That’s true but we’re not going to eliminate finance overnight, like it or not. One of the first steps in the socialist transition as we see it, is that we’re going to have to learn how to discipline capital and put it to public use. That’s a key thing that I think public banks will help us do as we learn and grow. There will still be contradictions to deal with, on display in struggle against the pipeline in North Dakota, because the public banks there are invested in that. This is not without contradiction, but we will have to set them up to be run by communities, and they must have a profoundly different orientation and logic. Whoever on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s team that put that in there, I was very much pleased to see it.

Sarah: To what extent were front-lines environmental justice groups consulted about the Green New Deal?

Kali: As an individual I was not consulted, but I think it’s a two-way street, because I also didn’t do much to help her get elected. The natural inclination is you’re going to listen to the folks who support you. The political trade off, whether we like it or not, is that you listen to those who put skin in the game to help you. That’s a reality we need to start with. Whether or not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reaches out, we have an obligation to tap her on her shoulder and say some of these ideas are terrible, here’s why, here are alternatives, here are examples of what the alternative looks like in practice—you can elevate them and use them as a model. That’s our task on the left—to intervene in that particular way. It’s not a question of whether or not she will listen: She’s an elected official, and we have move her to listen through the force of our organizing initiatives. We have to struggle with her to make sure she votes in the broadest interests possible, since she’s trying to lead this on a national level.

For me, it’s our task to hit her up, to contact her, to make sure we are very upfront and vocal from this point forward, to make sure what we’re demanding and proposing is very clear. We have to win other folks over to that position as well. Some of the best ideas might not carry the day if they don’t have an organized constituency behind them. She’s going to have to go to battle, she’s going to have to fight for the Green New Deal, and she’s probably going to listen to those forces that have the greatest leverage in terms of resources, or the greatest number of voices in sheer numbers. Those are things we have to deliver—we need to deliver that to make sure she’s accountable to our demands. We need to be real about how this game is going to play out. And be clear about what we bring to the table to make sure we get the outcomes we need.

Press link for more: In These Times

Dirty air: how India became the most polluted country on earth 

Air pollution kills 7,000,000 people every year.

SUSAN'S SPACE

Arvind Kumar, a chest surgeon at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, has a ringside view of the toll that northern India’s deteriorating air quality is taking on its residents. When he started practising 30 years ago, some 80 to 90 per cent of his lung cancer patients were smokers, mostly men, aged typically in their 50s or 60s.

But in the past six years, half of Dr Kumar’s lung cancer patients have been non-smokers, about 40 per cent of them women. Patients are younger too, with 8 per cent in their 30s and 40s.

To Dr Kumar, the dramatic shift in the profiles of lung cancer patients has a clear cause: air fouled by dirty diesel exhaust fumes, construction dust, rising industrial emissions and crop burning, which has created heavy loads of harmful pollutants in the air.

via Dirty air: how India became the most polluted country on earth

View original post

Our path to the end

The Brooklyn Culture Jam

timeline for too late we're screwedif you have trouble figuring any of this out, refer to this chart

This post started as a response to a question on Quora. I spend way too much time on Quora and Facebook and other such time-vampire sites, but somehow I’ve worked up to the point where I’m a frequent responder on topics around climate change. I’ve become a most frequently-read poster ‘expert’ on Quora, which means… something. 

Anyway, a question came up today that merits some exploration. And since I’ve never done a compilation of the estimates and predictions about NTHE, I thought this was as good a time as any.

“What events would take place in the months, weeks, days and hours leading up to a mass Extinction event?”

(you can find the article here)

I am going by the work of scientists who’ve written about these events. These are not predictions, but estimates…

View original post 801 more words