The idea of a Green New Deal (or New Green Deal), despite first appearing more than 10 years ago, has become very popular in recent months. These Green New Deals “make an analogy to the response to the Depression of the 1930s with an idea today that with greater state expenditure a huge effort can be put into developing the infrastructure of an economy based on renewables and a decarbonised energy system. This would simultaneously create jobs...”(1). There is a lot to agree with, given that a massive transformation is needed towards a clean economy. However, these proposals all assume continued economic growth, albeit “green growth”, and as we know, this is problematic since the material and energy flows entailed are what got us into ecological overshoot in the first place. A number of pieces from across the degrowth community have raised various questions about these Green Deals and we thought it would be worth putting together a collection of links (3). If you spot others, do let us know and we’ll add them.
What Kind of a Green Deal? The implications of material and monetary flows. Mark H Burton at Steady State Manchester alternative link
Green New Deals….yes….but what does that mean? Brian Davey at FEASTA
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant Stan Cox at Green Social Thought
Climate breakdown is coming. The UK needs a Greener New Deal Jason Hickel at The Guardian
The ‘green new deal’ supported by Ocasio-Cortez and Corbyn is just a new form of colonialism Asad Rehman at The Independent
And in similar vein,
As the left wakes up to climate injustice, we must not fall into ‘green colonialism’ by Dalia Gebrial at The Guardian
A Green New Deal beyond growth. A concise summary of the central dilemma, by Riccardo Mastini at degrowth.info (the English language section of the German degrowth network site).
A Green New Deal beyond growth (II) – Some steps forward, by Elena Hofferberth. Also at degrowth.info. Following Mastini’s piece, this helpfully identifies both commonalities between GNDs and degrowth and looks at their different emphases.
The Green New Deal: What’s Really Green and What’s Really New? by Brian Czech at CASSE blog: focussing on the question of the scale of the material economy in the USA political context.
Degrowth vs. the Green New Deal. A very helpful “compare and contrast” piece by Aaron Vansintjan on Briar Patch magazine.
The Green New Deal’s contradiction – new infrastructure and redistribution may boost carbon emissions. A point made in more detail elsewhere but here succinctly and via historical comparison with the original New Deal’s boosting of emissions and urban sprawl. By Matthew Paterson at The Conversation. Michael Jacobs, who is not in general a supporter of degrowth, also makes this point, citing Paterson, in a helpful overview of the challenges facing a GND in the UK.
In some versions of the New Green Deal, the growing GDP is rather hidden but it is, nevertheless there (as Burton discusses). However, one of the pioneers of the approach, Robert Pollin, celebrates the role of “green growth” contrasting it with the degrowth approach in a highly critical article in New Left Review. Responses have been made to this piece by Giorgos Kallis at TruthOut and by Mark Burton and Peter Somerville in New Left Review (2).
Also see this by Jason Hickel and Giorgos Kallis: “Is Green Growth Possible?” In the journal New Political Economy.
None of us are saying that the degrowth alternative is an easy option. It is just that the biophysical realities mean that the New Green Deal could inadvertently make the situation worse by continuing to destroy the physical and biological systems on which life depends.
What we need to work on is an ecologically and economically literate Green Deal. The expertise is there in the degrowth movement, so what’s stopping us?
post updated 2 August, 2019
- The quotation is from Brian Davey’s piece, quoted above.
- The NLR articles are behind a paywall. If you can’t access them, then contact us and we can help.
- Thanks to Riccardo Mastini for spotting some of these and sharing them on twitter.