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Only Seven Years to Address Climate Emergency

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EcoSocialist Green New Deal

By Mark Dunlea, Green Party of New York State

The EcoAction Committee of the Green Party of the United States has ramped up its efforts in 2021 to promote an ecosocialist Green New Deal (GND) while promoting economic and racial justice.

With the Democrats holding only a tiebreaker for a majority vote in the Senate, federal climate action is more likely through Presidential Executive Order than through legislation. EcoAction joined ClimatePresident.Org and Build Back Fossil Free to support efforts for Biden to use his Executive powers to declare a climate emergency and take a strong stance in favor of halting new fossil fuel infrastructure and rapidly phasing out existing uses. Biden did take some positive steps but fell far short of what was needed to avoid climate collapse.

The EcoAction committee has helped to organize local and national Green Party actions from Earth Day to May Day, highlighting how issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, worker and immigration rights, and climate are all interconnected. EcoAction helped organize webinars on Climate and the Military, and How Nuclear Power is a False Climate Solution.

Former Green Party presidential candidates Howie Hawkins and David Cobb spoke at an EcoAction webinar in February on ecosocialism and the Green New Deal as part of the week of action from the Build Back Fossil Free campaign. The Green Party of Florida highlighted its efforts to support indigenous groups in protecting their ancestral lands.

Hawkins, joined by GP candidates nationwide, first issued a call for the GND in his 2010 race for Governor in New York. Unlike more moderate proposals advanced by AOC, the GP called for a 10-year timeline to reach zero emissions, a commitment to 10% clean renewable energy (no nukes) while supporting massive cuts in the military, a robust carbon tax, and higher taxes on the rich to pay for it. It also advocated for a publicly owned (including worker coops) and democratically controlled energy system.

Hawkins and the Green Party criticized Biden for committing the US at his Earth Day Climate Summit to only cut emissions by 50% by 2030. The Greens had been pushing for 100%. A national coalition led by Friends of the Earth called for a 70% cut by the US by 2030 combined with a massive increase in US funding to assist developing countries and the Global South in responding to the climate crisis created by the industrial polluting countries like the US.

Albany 2018 Climate March

The Green Party said Biden’s declarations have been a step in the right direction but fell woefully short of what the science says must be done to avert a climate catastrophe. “Democrats love to lecture that ‘half a loaf of bread is better than none but the President is offering half of a parachute when we’re about to be kicked out of an airplane,” said Green Party Communications Manager Michael O’Neil.

“The  COVID pandemic showed us how quickly and profoundly we can alter the fundamentals of society when we recognize we’re in an overwhelming crisis,” said Howie Hawkins, the 2020 Green Party Presidential Nominee.

“There’s no doubt that climate change is an existential crisis to humanity and the planet. Biden needs to formally declare a climate emergency and launch an all-out mobilization of national resources to give current and future generations a fighting chance for a future” said Hawkins who became the first candidate in the United States to campaign for a Green New Deal, in 2010. 

The Green Party noted the science has long been clear: 7 years remain, at the world’s present rate of greenhouse gas emissions, before surpassing the limit required to keep warming below the 1.5℃ threshold that will trigger catastrophic climate change. Extreme weather, species extinction, and fracturing ice sheets threatening massive sea-level rise are all accelerating.

The Greens recently called for Congress to pass a ten-year, $4.1 trillion per year green economic stimulus to create 30 million jobs and accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. By comparison, Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure stimulus barely scrapes the surface of urgent climate needs, with only $400 billion for specific climate measures, and even that is spread out over eight years. Such measures can be done through the budget reconciliation process in the Senate, meaning it only needs 50 plus 1 vote to pass.

NYC Climate Strike Rally, 2019

The Green Party’s plan for a Green New Deal — to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy while ensuring living wage jobs and economic security for everyone —includes:

  • An immediate halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure, including new fracking and fossil fuel pipelines. Set a timeline to phase out current infrastructure.
  • Phasing out natural gas with its dangerous methane emissions, swiftly transitioning to geothermal and heat pumps for buildings.
  • Moving from gas cars to electric and, with even greater benefit, expand and transform mass transit powered by green renewable energy.
  • Retrofit tens of millions of homes annually, not a million over 8 years. 

To pay for the program, the Green Party supports slashing the dangerous, bloated military budget (that devours over 60% of Congressional expenditures), enacting a carbon tax on polluters, and increasing taxes on the wealthy.

Green leaders also prioritize a Just Transition to guarantee good wages for existing fossil fuel workers and to invest in frontline communities that bear the greatest risk, both at home and abroad, who’ve long been the principal victims of fossil fuel pollution and climate change. The Green New Deal revitalization will include environmental reforms beyond energy and climate goals, such as stricter EPA guidelines for disposal of toxic waste and agriculture regulations for pesticides, herbicides, and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“Many Americans realize that the U.S. was an international climate pariah under Trump and his climate-change-denying promotion of fossil fuels. But they overlook how the U.S. was a negative force at the 2015 Paris climate summit, leading the industrial polluting nations in opposing a reduction in the global warming cap to 1.5℃ and blocking mandatory emission reductions. The world remains skeptical of the climate positions of both the Democrats and Republicans” added Green Party National Co-Chair Tamar Yager.

While the party supported Biden’s move to stop new fossil fuel leases on federal lands and once again reject the permits for the XL Keystone Pipeline, Greens want the federal government to halt all new fossil fuel infrastructure, including a national ban on fracking natural gas. Greens stated that in its first week, the Biden administration issued at least 31 new oil drilling permits authorizing operations on federal land and in coastal waters. Greens also opposed $6 billion in recent Congressional energy deals for carbon capture technologies that would allow the continued burning of fossil fuels.

The Green Party applauds Biden’s move to require 40% of climate funding to assist disadvantaged communities through challenging environmental racism. However, as one of the world’s wealthiest nations, the U.S. must dramatically increase its funding for developing countries to compensate for our country’s major role in driving global warming worldwide.

The Green Party is committed to environmental justice and a Just Transition. Dr. Jill Stein was issued an arrest warrant during her 2016 Presidential campaign for protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Greens demand an end to all new pipelines such as Line 3 and Mountain Valley. Greens also oppose the continued use of nuclear power due to environmental and health damage.

NYC Climate Change School Strike

“We need to transform the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FERC) from a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry to a proponent of renewable energy. The Treasury Department and Security and Exchange Commission should issue regulations to block the financial industry from investing in fossil fuels. We need to move to public ownership and democratic control of our energy system, as the domination of the capitalist marketplace has led us to climate disaster. It is time to take a range of actions, including a robust carbon fee and dividend program to hold polluters accountable for the damage they have caused,” said Gloria Mattera, Green Party National Co-Chair.

The EcoAction Committee is also working with the Global Greens to increase the impact of the worldwide Green Party movement at the COP26 gathering in Glasgow in November, where many Greens will be voting delegates for their countries.

For more information on the Green Party EcoAction Committee 

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