Winning the Green New Deal: Why We Must, How We Can. Edited by two Sunrise leaders, Varshini Prakash and Guido Girgenti, Simon and Schuster, 2020
Sunrise Movement, the youth organization that has staged many events to promote the Green New Deal (GND), commissioned a book on GND. The book is a collection of essays by activists and academics. Activists such as Prakash recount some significant events, such as the sit-in at the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Congress. Others have chapters that sound like the speeches they gave at rallies and that makes the book a good source on the history of the movement.
Some chapters are authored by well-known commentators such as David Wallace-Wells, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Joseph Stiglitz. They provide more analysis of the Green New Deal and its place in the pantheon of climate actions in which they themselves have participated. These chapters form the crux of the book as a general reader on climate activism.
All in all, Winning the Green New Deal is a must read for those who would understand the GND itself and the context in which it was formed and promoted.
A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal by Kate Aronoff (Author), Alyssa Battistoni (Author), Daniel Aldana Cohen (Author), Thea Riofrancos (Author), Naomi Klein (Foreword). Jacobin Paperback. 2019.
This green new deal version is written explicitly as a Democratic Socialist analysis. As such, it recommends overturning capitalism and relying on socialist policies to decarbonize the economy and provide guaranteed jobs, housing and health care for all. The critique of the capitalist economy is severe, extending even to abolition of private vehicles – even if they are electric (sorry, Tesla). The section on housing is particularly vivid, with utopian portraits of community housing surrounding green spaces with community recreation and cultural opportunities. There is an extensive critique of the economics of batteries, focusing on the life cycle of lithium as one of the key elements in the technology of the future.
The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth. by Jeremy Rifkin. St. Martin’s Press, 2020
Rifkin, a writer for the New York Times and economic advisor to the European Union and China, has used economic and financial analysis tools to dissect fossil fuel civilization. He makes a fascinating case for the collapse of what he calls the fossil fuel bubble, the current economy, by 2028. His main thesis is outlining a new economy based on renewable energies financed by pension funds. He claims that many funds are already transitioning away from fossil fuel companies and into renewables. He argues that pension funds can fund GND independent of the government. U.S. pension funds, for example, amount to $25 trillion. He turns the old Marxist slogan, “workers of the world unite,” on its head and says they have already begun to own the means of green production through pension funds. The key is organizing workers to pressure fund managers toward a GND. This is the “economic plan to save life on earth.”
The case for the Green New Deal by Ann Pettifor, Verso Books, 2020
As a counterpoint to the Rifkin Book, Pettifor’s text offers a critique of the international financial system. Written from a British socialist standpoint, the thesis is that the financial system has supported unsustainable use of resources. Six of eight chapters of the book are devoted to dissecting the role of international finance, with a special critique of subsidizing fossil fuel development and production. The chapters on green new deal focus primarily on resource flows in the economy, with a particular point of making the ecosystem completely self-contained as a closed system. Recycling and cradle-to-grave production and consumption cycles would reduce energy use and permit energy transition to renewables. Energy might have to be rationed on a wartime basis, much as resources were rationed in World War II. There is a particular emphasis on domestic infrastructure investment as a tool in making the transition to a green economy.
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates. 2021. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Along with his work on health, Bill Gates has taken on climate change, a cause to which he can apply his intellect and fortune. Gates does a thorough job of reviewing climate science, on which he has spent considerable time and thought. His data is generally very accurate and up to date, and he identifies all of the causes and consequences of climate change in a manner that is easy to follow. Two areas where Gates departs from the majority of scientists and activists are geoengineering and nuclear power. On geoengineering, Gates reviews some of the research that he himself has funded and discusses various alternatives, including high-atmosphere particles and cloud generation. He warns, all other possibilities must be tried first, particularly reductions in fossil fuel use. His preference is for brightening clouds rather than infusion of particles such as sulfur dioxide in the high atmosphere (which is what happens when volcanoes erupt). He acknowledges the criticisms of geoengineering and leaves the reader with the feeling that he is not completely convinced it will work.
On nuclear, he notes that conventional reactors have been problematic (viz Chernobyl and Fukushima) but promotes a new kind of reactor being developed by Terrapower, a company he founded along with some nuclear scientists. “A handful of companies, including TerraPower, are working on advanced reactors that solve the problems of the 50-year-old design used by reactors you see today: Their designs are safer and cheaper and produce much less waste.” (There is more information at https://www.terrapower.com/about/). It remains to be seen if the designs are practicable and economic, but the “nuclear allergy” that afflicts many climate activists is a major hurdle for Gates to overcome.
Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal Is Even Worse than You Think by Morano, Marc. 2021. Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Note: We are reviewing this book so that anyone interested in the Green New Deal can understand the views of opposition writers and the arguments they use to attack it.
Marc Morano, a master of climate science dismissal, has been an aide to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and webmaster of “Climate Depot.” He takes on the Green New Deal in a new book that embodies all the themes of climate science dismissal. His basic premise is stated in the first chapter: “The Green New Deal is not about the climate or ‘saving the planet.’ Repeat that over and over. The GND is about much more than the climate or the environment. It is about transforming modern America into a centrally planned and managed society and imposing an ideology that will reign in the freedoms of individual Americans.” He reassures readers that, despite the evidence (who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?), there are no severe heat waves or other climate consequences to worry about. It doesn’t matter what the science says, it is a “movable feast” to be interpreted as one likes. After a collection of no-climate-change claims, he gets to the crux of the matter. The Green New Deal is a plot to deprive everyone of their liberty and redistribute income. “The Green New Deal is the ultimate culmination of decades of environmental activism seeking societal change through ‘solutions’ to environmental problems.” Dismissing evidence of climate change and shifting the argument to social/political ideology is standard practice in the world of climate science dismissal. One thing that climate skeptics like to do is criticize climate science for making projections of temperature increases and climate consequences. Morano, however, likes to make projections of Green New Deal costs and he comes up with the fantastic figure of $100 trillion. Another projection that betrays his ignorance of climate science is the statement that reducing carbon emissions will have little or no effect on temperature.
The Green New Deal and Climate Change: What You Need to Know. by Balzer, Lynne. 2021. Faraday Science Institute. Kindle Edition.
Note: We are reviewing this book so that anyone interested in the Green New Deal can understand the views of opposition writers and the arguments they use to attack it.
Balzer argues: world average temperatures have not risen since 1998, extreme weather is no more frequent or intense than in the past, and more carbon dioxide may be good for the globe (all untrue). She uses the “wealth redistribution” argument to criticize both the IPCC and the Green New Deal. Several other critiques of the Green New Deal are scattered throughout the book: The Green New Deal is a “nonsolution to a nonproblem,” i.e. promoting unreliable renewable energies when other energies (e.g., nuclear, hydro, oil and coal) are available. “Because the Green New Deal fails to address strategies, trade-offs or costs involved in implementing it, it is completely impractical.”
Food Is Climate: A Response to Al Gore, Bill Gates, Paul Hawken, and the Conventional Narrative on Climate Change. Merzer, Glen. 2021. Vivid Thoughts Press. Kindle Edition.
Merzer’s book is a striking refutation of conventional climate wisdom, particularly that which relies totally on addressing only fossil fuel sources of carbon pollution. He focuses on animal agriculture, responsible for 51% to 87% of carbon emissions. This seems tenuous (other sources estimate that all agriculture contributes 24% of emissions), but these arguments have merit in identifying two of the most important sources of emissions, particularly of methane: land use and farm animals.
Merzer proposes eliminating meat from the diet (everyone should become vegan) and reforesting land used for growing animals. He does not think much of the Green New Deal: “Most of the ideas embedded in the Green New Deal, which was originally just a flashy non-binding resolution and is only now beginning to be fleshed out in proposed legislation, would undoubtedly be helpful ways to decarbonize electricity, improve energy efficiency, and create jobs. But they surely won’t prevent a climate catastrophe. The only way to prevent a climate catastrophe is to “take away your hamburgers!” .
Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future. Griffith, Saul. 2021. MIT Press. Kindle Edition.
Griffith’s research is prodigious and his explanation of the challenges of transforming energy use are first rate. He presents reams of evidence on energy use and alternatives that would decarbonize the economy. His proposed solutions draw on some of the best science and engineering concepts, but they are not difficult to follow. An essential book for anyone addressing the climate crisis challenge.
Overheated. Aronoff, Kate. 2021. Public Affairs. Kindle Edition.
Aronoff puts the Green New Deal into the context of socio-political changes that she posits as necessary for resolving the climate crisis. Her main thesis is that nationalization of energy, including oil and gas companies, the electric grid and utilities, is necessary to avoid future climate disasters. Her critique of the energy sector is severe, with a focus on the profit motive as the source of the devastation it portends. Some readers may find the thesis “overheated” but her arguments are worth serious consideration.
Speed & Scale. Doerr, John. 2021. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Doerr’s book is worth a read, in part because his background as a principal in Kleiner Perkins, the famed Silicon Valley venture fund, makes his approach a counter to the Aronoff books. He describes numerous business climate ventures, interspersed with quotes from entrepreneurs. His review of climate science is thorough and his proposed solutions are extensive. He commends the Green New Deal as a movement that can spur political action.
Red, Green, and Blue: The Partisan Divide on Environmental Issues. David Karol. 2019. Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
David Karol’s book is a surprisingly thorough review of environmental politics for such a short book (only 86 pages). It is a pithy review of the literature along with some original research on environmental politics of parties, candidates and members of Congress. There is only a brief mention of the Green New Deal, which had only been introduced at the time of the book’s publication, but it is a good guide to prospects for elements of the Green New Deal.
Green New Deal Proposal
Policy Report by Data for Progress: https://www.dataforprogress.org/green-new-deal/
Sierra Club Review of the Green New Deal: https://www.sierraclub.org/trade/what-green-new-deal
House Select Committee Report on Climate: https://climatecrisis.house.gov/sites/climatecrisis.house.gov/files/Climate%20Crisis%20Action%20Plan.pdf
Science journalists’ critique: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/30062020/house-democrats-climate-plan-green-new-deal-not-ban-fracking
For an interesting take on Texas and the Green New Deal, see https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/21/opinion/green-new-deal-texas-blackout.html
Faith Community Statements
Unitarian-Universalist Association Resolution on Green New Deal: https://www.uua.org/action/statements/build-movement-green-new-deal
UCC (Congregationalists) resolution on the Green New Deal: A resolution endorsing the Green New Deal, entitled “Let Justice Roll Down — Declaring Support for the Green New Deal and Affirming the Intersectionality of Climate Justice with all Justice Issues”
Seattle’s Green New Deal Resolution
Green Climate Fund
Background on the Green Climate Fund
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was agreed in 1992 by over 100 countries, later expanded to 192 countries, nearly all the countries in the world. The U.S. ratified the UNFCCC by a unanimous vote of the U.S. Senate. Two further agreements were made under the auspices of the UNFCCC: the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015. The latter agreement pledges members to keep temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees C and strongly urges members to remain below 1.5 degrees increase from historic levels. It also pledges members to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050. Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. pledged to reduce emissions by 26-28% by 2025. Former President Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement in 2020 and reneged on U.S. commitments, but President Biden sent a letter to rejoin, effective February 20, 2021.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established by the Conference of Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC in 2010. Under the Obama Administration, in 2014 the United States pledged $3 billion to the GCF, but only transferred $1 billion before former President Trump withdrew support for the Fund. The US also did not pledge funding for the first replenishment of the GCF in 2019. Environmental organizations call on the Biden administration to immediately pledge and support appropriation of at least $8 billion to the GCF: $2 billion to fulfill the first pledge; and $6 billion to bring the US in step with other key contributors who doubled their contributions in the first replenishment.
The organizations which are calling for a U.S. pledge to the GCF are:
- 350 Silicon Valley
- ActionAid USA
- Call to Action Colorado
- Catholic Network US
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
- Climate Law & Policy Project
- Colorado Businesses for a Livable Climate
- Colorado Democratic Party Energy & Environment Initiative
- Earth Action, Inc.
- Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization (EEECHO)
- Food and Water Watch
- Friends of the Earth US
- Greenpeace USA
- Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition
- Leadership Conference of Women Religious
- Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
- Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- North Carolina Council of Churches
- North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light
- Nuclear Information and Resource Service
- Oil Change International
- Organized Uplifting Resources and Strategies
- Oxfam America
- Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania
- Pivot Point
- Project Blueprint
- RapidShift Network
- Sierra Club
- Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
- Sunrise Movement
- The Oakland Institute
- The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)
- Utah Moms for Clean Air
- Venner Consulting
- Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)
- Zero Hour
The Red, Black and Green New Deal is an organization of BIPOC
communities (Movement for Black Lives ):
Sunrise Movement is planning “teach-ins” during the summer. You can register here: