The Green New Deal: Saving Capitalism, Saving the Planet

April 18, 2019

Hand with magnifing glass over the world

Today the world is facing an unprecedented crisis. If we don’t do something about it, life on earth as we know it will never be the same. But time is running out. We have to act now.

Yes, we have to rescue capitalism.

It’s being held hostage by fossil-fuel industry CEOs and their lobbyists and all their out-of-date ideas—and without our help it (along with the rest of us) will be swallowed up by climate change’s rising seas. Luckily, there’s a proposal out there that just might save capitalism: the Green New Deal. (Bonus: it could also save the planet.)


Rising to the Occasion

Maybe you’ve heard about the Green New Deal? It was introduced in February and it’s a detailed, comprehensive, and inspiring response to the climate crisis—basically a blueprint for creating the kind of world we want to live in (i.e., a habitable one where people have jobs).

According to New Consensus, an organization that helped to develop the plan, “The Green New Deal will be the most ambitious and transformative national project taken on since Franklin Roosevelt’s original New Deal and World War II economic mobilizations.”

The Green New Deal wants to decarbonize the United States, taking the country carbon neutral by 2030, while creating millions of new jobs in the process. It calls for massive investments in infrastructure and communities from the federal government, but also through private industries. At its heart is an emphasis on economic and climate justice.

Also at its heart: a real sense of urgency. If we’re going to act—and we absolutely need to act—then we have to act now. Climate change is already ransacking our economy and putting people’s lives and futures at risk here in the US and across the world. The Green New Deal is a solution that’s as big as the challenges it addresses.


Saving Capitalism from Itself

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we have 12 years left to limit the most catastrophic effects of climate change. That’s not a lot of time! But it’s not like business leaders didn’t see this coming. The oil companies have known about climate change since the 1970s. Despite that, they and the politicians they fund continue to push for a dirty, unsustainable economy based on extraction and exploitation, an economy that depends on disposable people and places. Clearly, capitalism didn’t save us. It can’t even save itself—and while CEOs will probably be all right, what happens to the workers? What happens to the rest of us when they’ve dug up the last of the coal or drilled for the last of the oil? What’s the plan then?

The drafters of the Green New Deal understand that climate change represents an existential threat, and they’re treating it like one. But they’re also treating it as an opportunity to transform our economy and make a just transition to clean energy—a transition that benefits everyone.

The Green New Deal has five main goals:

  • Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (via a fair and just transition for all communities and workers)
  • Millions of good, high-wage jobs
  • Huge investments in US infrastructure and industry
  • Clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all
  • Stopping current, preventing future, and repairing the historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities.

Despite a lot of resistance from the dirty-fuel industry, renewable energy growth is exploding. That’s awesome. But left to its own devices, capitalism will never move fast enough to meet the urgency of the climate challenge. In fact, without meaningful regulations, it’ll never even work properly. Think of it: none of us can take our trash and dump it in the middle of the street, but the big oil and coal companies get to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer. The Green New Deal puts an end to the days of climate polluters doing whatever they want while the rest of us pay the price.

A little more on that last point: as long as corporations make their own rules, capitalism will never ensure justice or economic security for workers, frontline communities, communities of color, or any of the most vulnerable of our neighbors and fellow citizens. The Green New Deal gets it right: we are all in this together.


The Clock Is Ticking

Admittedly, the scope of change required for us to avoid the worst effects of climate change is unprecedented. But unprecedented does not mean impossible.

It requires a radical transformation of how we see ourselves and how we see our economy.

We’ve risen to the occasion before. Roosevelt’s New Deal worked and set the stage for one of the most miraculous periods of productivity and prosperity the world has ever seen. If we pull together now and get behind the Green New Deal’s big, bold, ambitious, and inclusive vision, we can not only save capitalism from itself, we can save the world—and ourselves. Contact your representatives today and urge them to cosponsor the Green New Deal.