Green New Deal is a good starting point for climate rehab

Originally introduced in Congress in 2018, the Green New Deal was reintroduced last month, a few days after the United Nations chief announced that the world is on the verge of a climate ‘abyss’ as global temperatures continue to rise. The scientific community affirms his declaration that “2021 must be the year of action.”

The U.S. has led in its contributions to the creating the climate crisis, and now we must lead in combatting it. The GND is calling for a 10-year, national economic mobilization to rapidly transition the U.S. to a zero-carbon economy.

In doing so it will regenerate and reorganize our economy in ways that significantly reduce income inequality and redress legacies of systemic oppression. Opponents have criticized the GND as a Trojan horse to bring in a progressive and ‘socialist’ agenda, such as universal health-care and free higher education.

In the process of transforming the physical and organizational structures of our societies at the speed and scale that scientists have called for, there is an opportunity to fix an economic model that is failing the majority of people on multiple fronts. The things that are destroying our planet are also destroying people’s quality of life in many other ways, from gross income and social inequalities to crumbling infrastructures and a loss of social cohesion.

The five big goals for the Green New Deal are:

• To achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;

• To create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity for all people of the United States;

• To invest in the infrastructure and industry of the U.S. to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;

• To secure clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment;

• To promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities, including indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities and the youth.

The GND would achieve these goals through an extensive set of projects and policies. Policy is the work to enact our shared values — to mold the world, through our democracy, into what we think it should be.

The GND is designed, first and foremost, to address the climate crisis at the speed, scale and scope required to prevent catastrophic levels of warming.

It comes from an analysis that identifies the climate crisis as a consequence of systems — neoliberalism, strategic racism, unfettered capitalism, colonialism and their interaction, rather than only a consequence of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Principles that guide the GND lie in the inconvenient truth that we are not a nation of prosperity for all. We are a nation of gross inequity, more so than any other G7 country. Our incomes have doubled for the top 1% since 1980 and stayed stagnate for the bottom 90%. Almost 80% of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck. People struggling to get even their basic needs met in a time of glutinous, unprecedented private wealth is a manufactured crisis.

In the last decade, 12 men gave $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups. The success of the GND depends on the ability to reroute power away from the 1% who have captured the financial, political, cultural and intellectual resources and return it to all of us and to the political and economic institutions designed to serve us. We will be better served in a society that takes care of people’s basic needs and avoids destroying the very place that gives us life.

The GND is a living document — an evolving, fluid blueprint. It has changed and evolved since it was first conceived in 2006. In 2019 the idea of a Blue New Deal was added given the oceans’ importance to both climatic systems and our economy. And nearly 40% of Americans live in coastal counties where lives, homes and infrastructure are at risk. This year, a Red New Deal has been suggested, which highlights the important role of indigenous people as the protectors of 80% of the biodiversity on Earth. Indigenous people make up only 5% of the population. The proposed Red New Deal is in recognition of the knowledge they hold in living in harmony with the earth, the leadership roles they are taking to end harmful extraction practices and the gross oppression to which they have been subjected with the intention of extinction.

Rather than just bracing ourselves for sacrifice and hard times, what if we envision an opportunity for a better life for all — greater equity and opportunity for everyone and living in harmony with our environment? Democracy at its best.


Laurel Brier is involved with the Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition, previously known as Apollo Kaua‘i. The KCAC meets the third Monday of the month at 5 p.m. For more information, email KCAC joins with Surfrider and Zero Waste Kaua‘i to offer a monthly educational series on the climate crisis and related topics the second Wednesday of the month on Zoom and the ZWK Facebook Live page.

  1. Mrs H May 9, 2021 6:51 am Reply

    Your post raises excellent issues however the new green deal was written & endorsed by an ex bartender that has absolutely no experience in the field. Also, this new green deal must make more money than our other energy resources. The govt is no longer is the market to take care of its citizens, it’s in the market to make money. Period.

    1. David Presley May 10, 2021 9:06 pm Reply

      Ex-bartender. That defines her? Forever?

      What did you do in your past that would define you? Forever.

  2. John Patt May 9, 2021 7:17 am Reply

    KISS. We need to deal with climate change, but the GND is not the answer. Even according to its authors, it is a wealth redistribution program. If you want to advocate for wealth redistribution, that’s fine, but when you make it a mainstay of a climate control proposal, you are deceiving and complicating. Climate change is too serious a problem to use it as a rationale to solve other societal problems. The more complicated a solution is, the less likely it is to get advanced. In this sense, the GND is counterproductive to our efforts to fight climate change.

  3. nothings free May 9, 2021 9:30 am Reply

    Wow! The alternate reality and a total lack of common sense rears it’s ugly head! America is broke. Almost dead broke!! The Politicians in charge today have no clue as to what to do. Offer more free stuff for votes is the only staple they have left. Unfortunately, you print more money, money becomes more worthless. It’s hard to believe that anyone who supports such nonsense and self motivation destruction can get a voice to write anything in a real newspaper. The world is going mad and this unfortunate entitlement dreamer is exactly the most destructive problem our Freedoms and Country have faced in it’s entire History. We are doomed. Get prepared for your children to suffer.

    1. Beeze May 10, 2021 9:04 am Reply

      Thank you for such an intelligent response to such a ridiculous idea in a world gone mad….

      1. Miceli May 11, 2021 1:11 am Reply

        The Green New Deal / UN Agenda 2030/ The 4th industrial Revolution is nothing more than a political marketing campaign that does nothing positive to help anyone especially Mother Earth.
        It is plain and simple STAKEHOLDER CAPITALISM.
        Let’s call it what it is
        Elitetist, Techno Feudalism, Totalitarianism wrapped in a pretty green bow

        1. therealhawaiian May 11, 2021 7:54 am Reply

          Very well said, Miceli!

  4. Sam May 9, 2021 10:13 am Reply

    This does exactly the opposite of what you are saying you want!!!! Think about it. It’s like a child’s wish list. A bunch of made of things that just won’t make you happy in the end!

  5. truthbeknown May 9, 2021 6:09 pm Reply

    Unless we hold the major polluters, China, India and Russia accountable and force them to abandon their plans of producing even more cheap polluting power generation, what will happen is that the USA will waste trillions of dollars to create the world’s most expensive pollution free environment while the other major players continue to use cheap polluting energy to build an even more impressive manufacturing juggernaut to effectively crush our ability to compete on the international marketplace. Brilliant plan, people!

  6. YuCalJoe May 10, 2021 4:23 am Reply

    The Green New Deal is nothing but an excuse to raise taxes. It’s a scam. Socialists love it because it will force dependency upon government. Stop the lies!

    1. R Li May 27, 2021 7:45 pm Reply

      wow! well said

  7. Mailman Mike May 10, 2021 9:59 am Reply

    There is no climate crisis. Let’s keep cleaning up our own backyard. Our air and water are as clean as they’ve ever been. Let’s deal with the cesspool problem once and for all.

  8. Miceli May 10, 2021 2:24 pm Reply

    The Green New Deal, U.N Agenda 2030, The 4 Industrial Revolution is basically Stakeholders Capitalism.
    Everyone loses including Mother Earth.
    Its Should be renamed Globalist/Eliteist New Deal

  9. heironymus May 10, 2021 9:22 pm Reply

    this is an example of a need of need for a crusade. Intellectuals with a narrow scope of expertise create a priestly cast of climate scientist in order to generate a large amount of government grants in order to justify their existence. Such a high priestly cast that can’t
    explain how the temperatures fractionally rose then we had a rise in carbon. Yet now, because of efficiency in the market, carbon levels have been decreasing.
    This religion of climate science is dangerous stuff.

  10. 503c May 11, 2021 9:24 am Reply

    This person is a kauai chapter of a non profit that will directly profit from the green new deal. Meanwhile China is by the the largest carbon emitter in world will be allowed to operate with impunity. Total bs agenda.

  11. Zach Barnes May 11, 2021 11:02 am Reply

    Green New Deal? What about India and China? And the rest of the world? Where is their commitment? They’re too busy poisioning our atmopshere, burning coal, ignoring all rules, conventions and treaties, and laughing at our bubble dwelling goal of self-destruction. Keep it up.

  12. RGLadder37 May 11, 2021 10:47 pm Reply

    This climate change, does it have something to do with the carbon emissions? IT SEEMS to me that only small state or countries like Hawai’i are concerned. I don’t see Pennsylvania concerned about pouring smoke and sulfur into the air and for building cars and airplanes. You might want to rethink your idea of Oceania and save the planet. I think this pollution thing is still going down. If I was an executive for Ford in Pennsylvania, no way I buy into your crap. Continue as planned is what I think.

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