The publication coincides with the arrival of the new European Commission, which has promised to deliver a “green deal” within its first 100 days (read the leaked contents of that “green deal” here) — an all-together uninspiring vision that we believe is doomed to fail.
The report sets out an alternative vision for a Green New Deal — one that gets Europe to carbon neutrality by 2030 while delivering environmental justice across the continent and around the world. The report also includes a new chapter, Pathways to the Green New Deal for Europe, on the politics to bring this vision to reality.
To accompany the report, we are publishing an open letter to President Ursula von der Leyen — co-signed by Yanis Varoufakis, Bill McKibben, Daniela Gabor Jason Hickel, Ann Pettifor and many many others — taking her to task for the deficits of the so-called “green deal.”
Foreword by Ann Pettifor
For too long, European environmentalists have treated the ecosystem as almost independent of the international economic system based on deregulated, globalized finance. A system that operates beyond the reach of regulatory democracy, beyond the reach of national and regional borders — and that uses “easy” if costly credit to fuel consumption and production, and to extract assets from the ecosystem. A system operated by unaccountable individuals and corporations. One that acts as if there were no limits to the exploitation of nature and labor.
This report is a blueprint for bringing about an urgent, system-wide reorganization within a short time period. For society to regain public authority over the international monetary system, to subordinate it to the interests of society and the ecosystem. The Green New Deal for Europe is a giant step in achieving that system change.
We can — and to survive we must — transform the failed system of financialized capitalism that now threatens to collapse earth’s life support systems, and with them, human civilization. We must replace it with one that respects boundaries and limits; one that nurtures soils and aquifers, rainfall, ice, the pattern of winds and currents, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity. A system that delivers social, political and economic justice.
We know that in the ten years or so that the UN’s scientists believe are left to us, it is possible to achieve such a transformation. One reason change is achievable is this important fact: just 10 percent of the global population is responsible for 50 percent of total emissions. Tackling the consumption and aviation habits of just 10 percent of the global population should help drive down 50 percent of total emissions in a very short time. This understanding helps us grasp the rate and scope of what is possible if we genuinely believe climate breakdown threatens human civilization and the natural systems on which we depend.
Our confidence should stem from our knowledge of human genius, empathy, ingenuity, collaboration, integrity and courage. Second, from an understanding of our economic system, and in particular of our money and monetary systems. We know that it is possible to transform the globalized financial system and make finance possible for the huge task of protecting the ecosystem, and ending social injustice, because we have done it before — in the relatively recent past.
The Green New Deal is inspired by President Roosevelt’s New Deal because his administration unilaterally dismantled the gold standard — the globalized financial system of his day — and stripped Wall Street of its power to dictate economic policy. Once the elected government was in the driving seat of the economy, and Wall Street was made servant to the interests of the people and of nature, it became possible to resolve the banking crisis of that time; to end the Great Depression; to raise finance and use fiscal policy to create jobs and income and end inequality.
Most importantly, it became possible to address the ecological crisis of that day: the “dust bowl.” The administration did so by hiring workers to plant three billion trees, slow soil erosion on 40 million acres of farmland, build 13,000 miles of hiking trails, and develop 800 new state parks.
That is the potential power of the Green New Deal for Europe. It rests on the understanding that finance, the economy and the ecosystem are closely intertwined, and that transformation of the economic system is essential to the transformation of the ecosystem.
With confidence, courage and hope we can tackle climate breakdown, restore biodiversity and save the planet. This report lays down the steps we Europeans must take to achieve that goal.
— December 2019