IHP news 503: Planetary health

By on January 4, 2019

Nature (World View) – How to make the next Green New Deal work

E Barbier; https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07845-5

To make green investments pay off, policymakers must learn from past mistakes and stop subsidizing polluters, urges Edward B. Barbier.”

As the 116th US Congress begins, a coalition is growing around an ambitious Green New Deal. If successful, a new House of Representatives committee would craft a 10-year plan to shift away from polluting industries, embrace green infrastructure and produce 100% of energy from renewables, improving prospects for US workers. Sound familiar? It is. In 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession, the United Nations Environment Programme asked me to write a report that formed the basis of its Global Green New Deal to stimulate economic recovery and create jobs. It aimed to improve the lives of the world’s poor, lessen carbon dependency and reverse environmental degradation. In the decade since, I have watched what worked, what didn’t and why. For the latest Green New Deal to flourish, the US government must first end fossil-fuel subsidies and correct other market distortions that prop up ‘brown economies’ — those that rely on fossil fuels and ignore the environmental impacts. Second, it must finance the new policy sustainably….”

In related ‘Green New Deal’ news, read also (IIED) 2019 – The way forward is a Green Decent Work Guarantee (by Andrew Norton)

How can the world achieve a step change in the fight against climate change during 2019? IIED Director Andrew Norton looks at the issues and suggests that a radical approach may hold the solution. “

“…Today, the idea of a Green New Deal is capturing the imagination of young people: in the words of Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocadio-Cortez, “This is going to be the Great Society, the moonshot, the civil rights movement of our generation.” There is of course a long way to go – while the idea is gaining support, US politics would have to change a lot for it to become feasible.

The Green New Deal makes a direct connection between tackling climate change and tackling inequality. A radical element is the proposal for a jobs guarantee – and these jobs would be geared to environmental goals such as rolling out renewable energy. History shows that when people are given rights they did not have before, and which they do not wish to give up, it becomes hard to roll back the progress made. So this is a powerful and resonant offer, which needs to find a global scale and a global language.  …”

Naomi Oreskes on the Politics of Climate Change


Five books recommended by Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University.  Among others: the Great Derangement by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh; Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (by Roy Scranton); Love in the Anthropocene by Bonnie Nadzam and Dale Jamieson; The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression by Angus Burgin.

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