History of the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal today

The Green New Deal is fast gaining momentum. So far, the campaign for a Green New Deal in the US has concentrated on the plan to transform the economy. In July 2019, senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez teamed up with presidential hopeful Kamala Harris to launch a Climate Equity Bill that would make sure that any policy to meet the climate crisis and its impacts also benefits low-income communities and other marginalised populations.

Potential presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also announced his plan for a Green New Deal, drawing on Roosevelt’s war time mobilisation rather than the public works programmes of the new deal. Sanders’ plan included the declaration of a climate emergency, a $16 trillion investment plan that would pay for itself in 15 years, and measures to make fossil fuel companies pay for the transition.

Europe for a Green New Deal have launched their blueprint for a Just Transition, drawing heavily on key elements of Roosevelt’s original new deal. There are now campaigns in the US, Canada, in the UK and across Europe, including Green New Deal UK. Green New Deal Group member Caroline Lucas, working with the Labour MP Clive Lewis has introduced the first attempt to legislate for a Green New Deal in the UK, the Green New Deal Bill, formally known as the Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill. Consensus is building among policy makers and campaigners, in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades, behind a bold transformational plan for our economies and societies.

Where the Green New Deal is going

The Green New Deal directly addresses the drivers of the climate, environment and inequality crises: a bloated and out-of-control finance system, and governments no longer able to control the direction of their own economies. The Green New Deal proposes changes to the way that economies are managed so that people and democracy decide what we can do, not the markets. With those foundations laid, the Green New Deal then sets out a programme for the transformation of almost every aspect of our lives so that we are able to decarbonise according to the timeframe set out by the science, and restore the natural systems we all depend on, while also reducing corrosive inequality.

Here, the UK has a responsibility to those communities affected by de-industrialisation, and the people and communities who have been excluded from the economy. We must restructure if we are to achieve the Green New Deal at the scale and speed needed for transformation, but we don’t need to wait. Local authorities, cities and towns can take the lead beginning the process of transformation where they are. We have a limited time to act, a broken economy to fix, a divided country to transform and a historical responsibility to reduce our emissions.

The Green New Deal begins at home, and we must do our part to reduce our share of emissions, but it must also be international in outlook. The UK has a historic responsibility, to the communities and countries around the world affected by colonialism and cultures of exploitation and extractivism.