Class 11 – System Change, Green New Deal

Class 11 – Monday, May 9. 2022 

  • System Change not Climate Change
  • Green New Deal, Public Power, Ecosocialism/Capitalism

Required Readings

  2. Kate Aronoff – From Fossil Capitalism to Green Democracy – Dissent Magazine
  3. A Path to Democratic Socialism Means a Path To Climate Justice – In These Times
  7. A New Era of Public Power | climateandcommunity

Optional Readings

  1. Whatever Happened to the Green New Deal? | Howie Hawkins for our Future


Arundhati Roy: Capitalism Is “A Form of Religion” Stopping Solutions to Climate Change & Inequality – YouTube

 3:40 Intro
3:45 news
4:00 system Change Not Climate Change

– Blow up the Pipeline

4:20 Ecosocialism

4:40 Green New Deal

5:15 Public Power


Manchin Bipartisan Climate Push: The bipartisan climate group’s end goals are fuzzy, though Manchin and Republicans generally favor investments in advanced nuclear energy and equipment to help facilities capture their carbon emissions. The Democrats-only package, in contrast, would pour hundreds of billions of dollars into clean energy tax credits and possibly include a fee on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Manchin already significantly pared back the lofty Democratic vision for reining in climate change. He axed an envisioned national clean electricity program, which would have paid utilities around the country for steadily reducing their emissions, as part of negotiations on the party-line bill push last fall. One Senate Republican, granted anonymity to speak candidly, said the entire bipartisan effort appeared aimed at destroying any momentum Democrats have for another big party-line bill.

In NY – All Electric Building Bill and Cryptocurrency Proof of Work Moratorium. Hearings on Climate Plan Continue – 100% Renewable Capitol bill voted out of Senate Committee on Monday. Cyrptocurrency (passed the Assembly, passed the Senate last year) – It does not come as a surprise that the legislation didn’t make the final Senate encon committee agenda of the year, given Senator Kaminsky’s (chair of the committee) opposition to the bill. The bill could go directly to the Rules committee and still be voted on this year, and we have heard from Parker’s office that they feel confident this can happen – so it makes sense to make calls to members of the Rules committee.

Vermont Governor Vetoes Clean Heat Standard – Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed the clean heat standard, which is widely viewed as the largest climate change bill of the session.  The bill, H.715, was designed to dramatically reform Vermont’s heat sector, which is responsible for more than a third of the state’s emissions. It was one of the most significant recommendations to come out of the Climate Action Plan, published in December, which outlined ways the state can curb emissions and meet legally mandated reduction targets. In his veto letter to lawmakers, Scott cited concerns about the potential financial impacts of the clean heat standard, which would have incentivized a shift away from fossil fuel heat. Veto override next week.

The Clean Heat Standard would require fossil fuel corporations and utilities that sell heating fuels in Vermont to reduce their climate pollution over time, in line with Global Warming Solutions Act requirements. Fossil fuel suppliers will be able to meet the performance standard either by selling cleaner heating fuels or by paying for work done by others that helps Vermonters use clean heating options (such as  weatherization, heat pumps, or advanced wood heat).

State lawmakers in Vermont’s House of Representatives voted to pass a bill on Wednesday that, if signed by the governor, would establish the state’s first environmental justice policy. S.148, as amended by the House, passed on a voice vote and is now headed back to the Senate for final approval before it goes to the governor’s desk.

Humans need to help other species face climate change, scientists say. Shifting climate conditions can put humans, animals and even plants on the move. Take trees: As the climate warms, familiar trees such as the yellow poplar are expected to expand northward in search of cooler temperatures. Some of those changes occur without prompting. But as human-caused climate change rages, a new study suggests, humans need to get more involved in helping other species survive — and scientists need fresh ideas to make that happen.  Scientists have long recommended that conservationists, for example, stem the growth of invasive species to preserve diverse life-forms; they also recommend policymakers increase protected areas or prioritize rare species for protection. The idea of assisting a species’ migration has long raised debates about the potential unintended consequences of transplanting animals and plants to new habitats.

Deadly ‘wet-bulb temperatures’. India and Pakistan If we do one thing to adapt, it really needs to be for heat, because that is where we see the strongest changes everywhere in the world,” she said. As the intensity of heat waves increases as a result of global warming, it raises the risk that what’s known as wet-bulb temperatures will also go up, pushing some heat events into “unsurvivable” territory, experts say. Wet-bulb temperature measures the combination of heat and humidity, which can hamper the human body’s ability to cool itself down if at too high a level.

A study published in May 2020 in the journal Science Advances found that heat and humidity in certain parts of the world are already testing the limits of human survivability. The research found that parts of South Asia, including India and Pakistan, coastal and southwestern North America and areas around the Persian Gulf have experienced conditions “nearing or beyond prolonged human physiological tolerance.”

Monthly average carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have reached above 420 parts per million (ppm) for the first time on record. The new data, from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory, were released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

System Change Not Climate Change

System Change Not Climate Change –

The current ecological crisis results from the capitalist system, which values profits for a global ruling elite over people and the planet. It must therefore be confronted through an international mass movement of working people around the world.

We recognize that the exploitation and destruction of the planet is intricately linked to the exploitation and oppression of human beings. We oppose all forms of oppression including racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia.

Demands Include: Public ownership and democratic control of production, starting with the energy and financial industries

The economy democratically planned according to social need and ecological sustainability.

Environmental justice

– removal of waste sites, incinerators, polluting industries, generators, transportation hubs and highways from oppressed communities

– protection and empowerment of communities most vulnerable to climate catastrophes

Kate Aronoff: The supervillain narrative of the climate crisis, that this tiny group of actors plotted and schemed in order to delay progress, is in some sense very true. But we need to understand that even the worst actors are part of an economic system and a belief system that makes this whole thing work. We have to look at the fact that capitalism is the problem. It makes the fossil fuel industry possible, and the fossil fuel industry, in turn, makes capitalism possible. Without understanding that relationship, it’s hard to make much progress.

Pope Francis

“the same indifference, the same selfishness, the same greed, the same pride, the same claim to be the master and despot of the world that leads human beings, on the one hand, to destroy species and plunder natural resources, on the other, to exploit misery, to abuse the work of women and children, to overturn the laws of the family cell, to no longer respect the right to human life from conception to the natural end.”

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

Economic powers con­tinue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment.

This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.

The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty

“environmental protection cannot be as­sured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safe­guarded or promoted by market forces”. Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals.

IPCC – A leaked draft of the third part of the upcoming IPCC report establishes that we must move away from the current capitalist model to avoid exceeding planetary limits. “Some scientists stress that climate change is caused by industrial development, and more specifically, by the nature of social and economic development produced by the nature of capitalist society, which they therefore consider ultimately unsustainable”.

Efforts to tackle climate change, and to prevent it from causing catastrophic loss and damage, have failed. If the world persists with neoliberal consumer capitalism, the failure is going to get deeper and deeper. Eventually, capitalism will collapse bringing Western civilization down with it.


The moral case for destroying fossil fuel infrastructure

Overall, the production of fossil fuels needs to be brought down to zero as fast as humanely possible, but in the real world, producers are planning to increase extraction as if there is no tomorrow.

We could destroy the machines that destroy this planet. If someone has planted a time bomb in your home, you are entitled to dismantle it. More to the point, if someone has placed an incendiary device inside the high-rise building where you live, and if the foundations are already on fire and people are dying in the cellars, then many would believe that you have an obligation to put the device out of action

slowing down the climate catastrophe means, by definition, the destruction of fossil capital: there can be no more profiting from fossil fuels. And if governments are incapable of initiating this work, because they take their orders from the top floors, then others should do so. Not because activists can accomplish the abolition of fossil fuels – only states have that potential – but because their role is to ratchet up the pressure for it.


Ecosocialism is a form of critique that roots environmental destruction in the imperatives of capitalism: profit-seeking, competition, endless growth, exploitation of humans and nature, and imperial expansion. The strategic political insight of ecosocialism is that the most transformative approaches to addressing climate change would also bring us closer to a socialist society. There are many examples of such a transformative approach: mass, public, zero carbon housing; mass, free, zero-carbon transit; bringing private, investor-owned energy utilities under public, democratic and community control, as well as transitioning them to renewable energy sources.

Manifesto by Joel Kovel and Michael Lowy: — In our view, the crises of ecology and those of societal breakdown are profoundly interrelated and should be seen as different manifestations of the same structural forces. The former broadly stems from rampant industrialization that overwhelms the earth’s capacity to buffer and contain ecological destabilization. The latter stems from the form of imperialism known as globalization, with its disintegrative effects on societies that stand in its path. Moreover, these underlying forces are essentially different aspects of the same drive, which must be identified as the central dynamic that moves the whole: the expansion of the world capitalist system. We believe that the present capitalist system cannot regulate, much less overcome, the crises it has set going. It cannot solve the ecological crisis because to do so requires setting limits upon accumulation—an unacceptable option for a system predicated upon the rule: Grow or Die!

Eco-socialism (also known as green socialism or socialist ecology) is an ideology merging aspects of socialism with that of green politics, ecology and alter-globalization or anti-globalization. Eco-socialists generally believe that the expansion of the capitalist system is the cause of social exclusion, poverty, war and environmental degradation through globalization and imperialism, under the supervision of repressive states and transnational structures. Eco-socialism asserts that the capitalist economic system is fundamentally incompatible with the ecological and social requirements of sustainability.

Green New Deal

Rapid transition to 100% clean renewable energy / zero emissions (within 10 years) with halt of fossil fuels combined with Economic Bill of Rights

The Green Party launched its Green New Deal effort in the U.S. in 2010 with the NYS Gubernatorial campaign of Howie Hawkins along with 60 other Green candidates nationwide. The GND combined a rapid, ten-year transformation (by 2020) to 100% renewable energy and zero greenhouse gas emissions with a comprehensive Economic Bill of Rights based on FDR’s last State of the Union: the right for everyone to quality health care (single payer Medicare for All); a guaranteed living wage job; housing; and education.

The US version grew out of a similar call by Greens and others in Europe a few years previously as a response to the worldwide financial collapse. The European version also included radical reforms to the financial system.

The GP GND is anti-capitalist. Free market policies that places the maximization of private profits over the common good is a core reason for climate change; solving the climate crisis requires system change, included related issues such as racism. The plan calls for public ownership and democratic control of the energy system. It calls for an immediate halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure and a ban on fracking. It recognizes that the American lifestyle and consumption are not sustainable.

The Green Party calls for a massive cut (50% or more) in the military budget to pay for a GND. Besides being the planet’s greatest user of fossil fuels, the U.S. military is used to impose imperialistic domination over other countries including taking control of their fossil fuels and other natural resources. The Green Party supports a robust carbon fee and dividend to make polluters pay for the damage they have caused and calls for a fairer tax system by raising taxes on the wealthy.

In 2018, Democratic politicians and their allied NGOs began promoting their own, watered-down versions of the GND without acknowledging that it had been initiated by the GP. AOC (Cong. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and the Sunrise Movement received national attention for their occupation of Speaker Pelosi’s office. But AOC’s Congressional resolution for a planning process, while calling for a 2030 timeline, dropped provisions such as immediate halt to fossil fuels, massive cuts in the military budget, the carbon tax, rejection of capitalism, and public ownership. Even that weakened proposal was shot down by the Congressional Democrats’ leadership. (See Whatever Happened to the GND?)

Subsequent versions by Democrats and their allied community groups have become increasingly weaker, with most pushing the deadline back to 2050, with a major role for carbon offsets, and largely failing to embrace the Economic Bill of Rights. Recent proposals like THRIVE include a strong commitment to environmental justice and a Just Transition but its call for green infrastructure investments lack specific details and fail to stress the need for rapid steps adequate to avoid climate collapse. (Note: the Sierra Club and Political Economy Research Institute last year issued a study calling for $1 trillion a year over 10 years for Thrive.)

The Democrats increasingly attach the GND label to any climate proposal and use the label to make the point that investments in renewable energy and green infrastructure are effective job creation strategies. Many mainstream Democrats increasingly join Republicans in dismissing the GND as “too controversial” despite overwhelming support among voters, especially Democrats.

The Green New Deal remains highly popular, enjoying a 31-percentage-point margin of voter support. This includes nearly all Democrats, a majority of Independents, and over one-third of Republicans.

Various coalitions calling for a Global Green New Deal. – see also and – Progressive elected officials

Builds an economy that delivers wellbeing for all of us:

Protects and enhances the earth we share 

Creates a caring low-carbon society  – We will work to expand the care economy, creating millions of socially necessary, low-carbon jobs in care, health and education, employing a new generation of youth leaders and community organizers. A job guarantee will make sure that everyone who wants to has the choice to work for their community and the planet.

Shapes a fair multilateral system fit for the twenty-first century

We will work to ensure that the world’s governments and the Bretton Woods institutions (International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) provide immediate debt cancelation for the world’s poorest countries

Secures environmental and racial justice, shaping a truly democratic future in which everyone has a role to play

Many politicians globally said they would make a Green New Deal a cornerstone of the COVID economic relief package but in the end more for fossil fuels. — The prospect of a global green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is hanging in the balance, as countries pour money into the fossil fuel economy to stave off a devastating recession, an analysis for the Guardian reveals. Meanwhile, promises of a low-carbon boost are failing to materialize. Only a handful of major countries are pumping rescue funds into low-carbon efforts such as renewable power, electric vehicles and energy efficiency.

Opposition to the Green New Deal

Post after tweet after editorial oscillates madly between a depiction of the Green New Deal as sheer folly, a laughable and frivolous exercise in ultraliberal vanity, barely worthy of analysis—and a  portrayal of savvy, power-crazed environmentalists rubbing their hands with glee. The Green New Deal, we are told, is socialism incarnate and just plain impractical—a “radical front for nationalizing our economy.

The American Action Forum estimates that, between 2020 and 2029, the energy and environmental components of the Green New Deal would cost $8.3 trillion to $12.3 trillion, or $52,000 to $72,000 per household. The total GND program, including the jobs and “social justice” policies, would cost $51.1 trillion to $92.9 trillion, or $316,010 to $419,010 per household.

Public Power

A public power utility provides long-term value to its community and citizens. The benefits are manifold, including (to name a few) rate stability, support for jobs, policies that are in line with community priorities, and financial support for local government functions.

As a nonprofit entity, public power has incentives that are not driven by the focus on quarterly earnings statements and shareholder value that dictates the behavior of private utilities and independent power producers (IPPs). This means public power can consider additional sources of value and benefits in designing its goals, strategies, and structure. It also enables NYPA to be a supportive partner in reducing energy consumption through efficiency gains—something largely antithetical to the private utility business model—and creating transparent, mutually beneficial relationships with community partners.

NYPA’s standing as a public institution means that it has access to the municipal bond market, lowering the cost of capital and the price of electricity compared to private companies. This access to cheap capital, combined with the lack of a profit-maximization incentive and a mandate to prioritize disadvantaged communities, should allow NYPA to increase its investment in a host of decarbonizing strat