Green New Deal/Economy for Life under development in the US, to get off fossil fuels by 2030

Catholics and others nationwide have been involved in development of a draft “New Deal”, a green and just New Deal, an Economy for Life.  This is in process.  Comments may be submitted to [email protected]

The Green New Deal – An Economy for Life

The Green New Deal will convert the old, gray economy into a new, green economy that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially responsible.  It will create 20 million new jobs, including make the government the employer of last resort with a major public jobs program.

Introduction

Our nation – and our world – faces a “perfect storm” of economic and environmental crises that not only threaten the global economy, but life on earth as we know it. The dire, existential threats of climate change, wars for oil, and a stagnating, crisis-ridden, and wealth and inequality for the .001% -maximizing economic system require bold and visionary solutions for a generative path and livable world, mindful of future generations.  The fate of humanity and existence of our civilization, culture, and systems is in our hands at this point.

Building on the concept of FDR’s New Deal, we call for a massive mobilization of government and the people on the scale of World War II in the 1940s – to transition our energy system and economy to 100% clean energy by 2030 (not including natural gas or nuclear power).  We propose an ambitious yet viable economic and environmental program that creates 20 million jobs, cuts our bloated and misguided military budget in half, turns the tide on climate change, and makes wars for oil obsolete. [1]

The Green New Deal fights the corporate takeover of our democracy and exploitation of the poor and people of color.  It outlines a just transition and major step towards ending unemployment, with a priority on providing resources to low-income communities and communities of color most impacted by climate change.  The Green New Deal will provide assistance to workers and local communities that now have workers employed in the fossil fuel, nuclear and weapons industries, and to the developing world as it responds to climate change damage caused by the industrial world.

The transition to 100% clean energy will be based on community, worker and public ownership and democratic control of our energy system, rather than maximizing profits for energy corporations, banks and hedge funds.  We need to treat clean energy, health, and a basic standard of living as a human right and a common good.  And we must reorient to producing for the common good.

We must cut military spending abroad and on weapons by more than half and bring our troops – currently stationed in over 1,000 bases worldwide – home to their families.  We must deploy our valued servicemen and women in their own communities to build up our country’s future and prosperity here at home Maintaining bases all over the world to safeguard fossil fuel supplies and making the world safe for exploitation has been a poor investment.  In doing so we have backed governments that suppress labor, democratic rights, progressive taxation, and environmental regulations, destroying the homes, lives, and displacing many people.  This can no longer be justified.  It is time for a rapid shift and a green new deal.

This decisive set of actions will not only save us from catastrophe, but it pays for itself – first through health care savings from the prevention of fossil fuel-related diseases, including asthma, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. This program not only addresses the urgent crises facing our society, it puts America’s leading role in the world to work in a constructive way; to build a just, sustainable, and healthy planet for our young people and future generations.

What the Green New Deal Will Do

Right now, our federal subsidy programs benefit large agribusiness corporations and the oil, mining, nuclear, coal and timber giants at the expense of small farmers, small business, environment, our lives and that of our children and future generations. We spend billions of dollars every year moving our economy in the wrong direction. Let’s change that!  The Green New Deal redirects that money to the real job creators who make our communities more healthy, sustainable and secure, instead of mis-using it on what destroys life and living systems in our communities and environment.

We will:

  1. Invest in green business and the common good by providing grants and loans to grow green businesses and cooperatives, with an emphasis on small, locally-based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community rather than being drained off to enrich absentee investors, the .01%.
  1. Move to 100% clean energy by 2030. Invest in clean energy technologies that are ready to go now. Redirect research funds from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward research in wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal. We will invest in research in sustainable, nontoxic materials, closed-loop cycles that eliminate waste and pollution, as well as organic agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.
  1. Create a Commission for Economic Democracy to provide publicity, training, education, and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory. We will strengthen democracy by participatory budgeting and institutions that encourage local initiative and democratic decision-making
  1. Establish a Renewable Energy Administration comparable to FDR’s hugely successful Rural Electrification Administration launched in 1935, which brought electrical power to rural America, 95 per cent of which had no power. Emulated by many other countries, this initiative provided technical support, financing, and coordination to more than 900 municipal cooperatives, many of which still exist.
  1. End unemployment in America once and for all by guaranteeing a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work. A Full Employment Program will create 20 million jobs by implementing a nationally funded, but locally controlled, direct employment initiative replacing unemployment offices with local employment offices. The government will be the employer of last resort, offering jobs meeting community-identified needs in the public and non-profit sectors to take up any slack in private for-profit sector employment. Jobs will be in sustainable energy and energy efficiency retrofitting, mass transit and “complete streets” that promote safe bike and pedestrian traffic, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing; infrastructure; and public services (education, youth programs, child care, senior care). Local communities will use a process of broad stakeholder input and democratic decision making to fairly design and implement generative programs.

 

Dealing with the Climate Crisis – 100% Clean Energy by 2030

The centerpiece of the Green New Deal is a commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. The transition to clean energy is not only a visionary plan for a better world, it’s absolutely necessary to ensure the continuity of life.

The disregard for the Earth and the generative cultures and caregivers from which we spring, and a choice for destructive and short-sighted profit at all costs now presents a serious threat to the survival of humanity and life on Earth. To prevent catastrophe, we need a WWII-scale mobilization to transition to an economy in service to life, with 100% clean renewable energy, shared vehicles or public transit, regenerative agriculture, and conservation.

Already tens of millions of people have been turned into climate refugees, and hundreds of thousands die annually from air pollution, heat waves, drought-based food shortages, floods, rising seas, epidemics, storms and other lethal impacts of climate change and fossil fuels. And as climate change worsens, wars fought over access to food, water and land will become commonplace.[3]

Scientists report that sea levels are rising much faster than predicted and could overwhelm coastal areas within decades. New York. Baltimore. Miami. Los Angeles. New Orleans. And more. Some scientists say the data shows that sea levels may rise by 9 feet within the next 50 to 150 years.[2]  Even more limited assumptions of 6 feet by 2100 suggest that nearly a trillion dollars of residential property and hundreds of cities will be swamped this century – and why – to preserve stockholders and fossil fuel interests last dollars of profit, in an industry they will have to depart in a few years anyway?  Where and what are our values?  We choose life for all and a generative economy now!

Scientists have been telling us we need to turn around now, that our discussions about targets and what is practical miss the point that we are past safe levels NOW, already! We must return to temperatures (as in the 1970s) that will not melt Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland ice sheets as fast as possible.  Countries around the world have now agreed that 2 C of temperature rise equates to catastrophic change we are already beginning to see with serious typhoons in the Pacific 50% worse than they used to be, ocean acidification, and the widespread destruction of coral reefs and the many lives they support. They agreed to set a lower target of “well below 2 degrees Celsius” and, preferably, 1.5 degrees Celsius. Scientific studies show this means reducing greenhouse gases twice as fast (7 to 9% annually) compared to the old goal of “80 by 50”. The GND’s plan to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030 is the only program in a US presidential candidate platform that even attempts to meet the scientific goal agreed to in Paris.

Can we get to 100% clean energy by 2030?

Going to 100% clean energy by 2030 means reducing unnecessary energy use as much as possible.  We must switch our electricity and power generation off of fossil fuels.  We can also improve our energy conservation and efficiency.  We can replace vehicles that are empty and unused over 90% of the time with shared, electric vehicles that provide access for all ages and abilities (small, direct/point to point transit), along with larger/mass transit where appropriate.  We can eliminate, save soil, and increase production as we cut the use of fossil-based fertilizers and pesticides. Many current proposals by the state and federal government to move to renewables only address the existing electrical system, which accounts for only about 1/3 of the carbon footprint in some places.  Increasingly we will all be drawing on electric power for what we need.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, who coordinated final results from deep decarbonization pathway studies in 12 leading countries said none have/“nobody has shown an alternative to this:  electrify everything with zero carbon power.  This is a 40 year, long-term systems transformation, if we care to succeed.  We are out of time and the goals we have set to date are disastrously loose…what we are doing is not good enough.”  youtube.com/watch?v=QwiDr5BepOs&index=7&list=PLXWWwIlSYtnD1iuO7tCALrKnVhYSdbhGk

We can do better, and we can make this shift!  Six IPCC scientists who just released a summary at the end of September 2016 concluded “emissions are not decreasing fast enough.  Doubling or tripling of efforts (beyond the Paris commitments) are needed.” http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/13837/

Studies have shown that there are no technological or logistical barriers to a clean-energy transition by 2030.[4] A British think tank recently issued a study saying that all fossil fuels could be eliminated in 10 years.[5]

The author of the best known series of studies on how to transition to 100% clean energy, Stanford and UC Davis professors Prof. Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi and their teams have conducted analyses that found that 2030 is technologically feasible for an energy transition off of fossil fuels.  They developed plans and energy combinations for each state to get to 80-85% renewables by 2030, adding 20 years to reflect political and economic challenges with the last, most challenging portion, perhaps industry and air travel.  Industries respond to regulation though, and if you politicians are told they have more time, they will take it.  Other Stanford professors, such as Tony Seba, have said the transition is going to happen much more quickly, and it is not only feasible but necessary. [6] The public sector needs to call and plan for it.

The Jacobson plan is only one approach, but resources are available for every state.  See http://thesolutionsproject.org/infographic/, http://thesolutionsproject.org/resource/50-state-visions-infographics/.  Over all 50 states, converting would provide 3.9 million 40-year construction jobs and 2.0 million 40-year operation jobs for the energy facilities alone, the sum of which would outweigh the 3.9 million jobs lost in the conventional energy sector.

Jacobson’s jobs estimates are only for electric power production. They do not include jobs from the two most potent job creators in an energy transition: mass transit/freight rail and retro-fitting buildings for insulation and efficiency [7]. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on investments in renewable energy create 3 times as many jobs as investments in fossil fuels or in nuclear power. Also missing in the Jacobson study are manufacturing jobs for clean energy generation equipment and jobs for retrofitting the grid to be a smart grid.

The Center for American Progress estimates that $100 billion in green economic investment will translate into two million new jobs in two years.[8]And a 2008 report by the Center on Wisconsin Strategies suggests that about 8 -11 jobs can be created for every $1 million invested in building energy efficiency retrofitting.[9]The American Solar Energy Society has estimated that jobs in energy efficiency industries will more than quadruple between 2007 and 2030, from 3.75 million to 16.7 million.[10] (see also Scaling Up Building Energy Retrofitting in U.S. Cities [11])

There is less data about how many jobs would be created through going to a comprehensive national mass transit program. However an analysis in 2011 by Smart Growth America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and U.S. PIRG, found that every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months, while the same amount spent on highway infrastructure projects produced 8,781 job-months.[12] (See also a study by the Transportation Equity Network.[13])

Wind is Still the Cheapest Power.  Need to Invest in Offshore Wind

A major missing ingredient in moving to 100% renewable energy system in the US is the lack of offshore wind. The first small offshore wind (OSW) farm will be operating shortly off of Block Island in Rhode Island.  The University of Delaware recently said that the United States has moved backwards in the last decade with respect to wind due to overreliance on market forces. There needs to be increased federal and state financial support to develop OSW.[14]

A report by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, written by the University of Delaware, found that the best way to lower costs for offshore wind was to commit to OSW development at scale, rather than on a project by project basis. It concluded that costs could be lowered as much as 30%. Taking advantage of wind turbine innovations and other technology and industry advances could lower costs by about an additional 20 percent. The NYSERDA report’s author added “well-designed policies and actions taken by New York, as well as by other states, can play an essential role in helping New York City and other East Coast population centers benefit from giga-watts of clean energy that could be generated by deploying wind turbines off the Atlantic coast.” [15]

The Green Transition and Public Jobs Program

This Green Transition Program will redirect research money from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward for research in wind, solar and geothermal. We will invest in research in sustainable, nontoxic materials, closed-loop cycles that eliminate waste and pollution, as well as organic agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.  Alteration of focus by the public and private sector could provide plentiful jobs in sustainable energy, transportation and manufacturing infrastructure: clean renewable energy generation, energy efficiency retrofitting, intra-city mass transit and inter-city railroads, weatherization, “complete streets” that safely encourage bike and pedestrian traffic, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing of the goods needed to support this sustainable economy.

A WPA-style public jobs program must be launched to secure the right to decent paid work through public jobs for the unemployed and those presently working in low paid service-sector jobs such as in fast food and retail and in sectors unlikely to exist in the future, related to fossil fuel mining and transport.  Economist Philip Harvey estimated the net federal cost for 1 million living-wage public jobs in 2011 at $28.6 billion. The economic multiplier of this fiscal stimulus would generate another 414,000 jobs in Harvey’s analysis. Dividing 19.6 million needed jobs by 1.4 million created jobs equals 14, which multiplied by $28.6 billion equals $400.4 billion for a 19.6 million jobs program.[16]

Other economists also estimate the cost of a program for the federal government as employer of last resort (ELR) would be relatively small, around 1-2% of GDP because it corresponds with huge savings in unemployment insurance in a way that pays people to work rather than to not work. A federally funded ELR program will also help the budgets of every state as incomes from employment add to the tax revenue of states and local governments.[17]

Bernie Sanders’ recent presidential campaign called for the creation of 13 million living wage jobs, primarily through $200 billion a year in investments in infrastructure: water system, transportation, seaports, electric grid, low head dams, and broadband.[18] As outlined above, the Green New Deal would invest in infrastructure that reduces the carbon footprint (e.g., energy retrofits, renewable energy), as well as education, child and adult care, home health services and other essential human services.

A job guarantee would also be good for the private sector, as it guarantees that domestic demand never collapses as much as it has in recent years, with chronically low wages and structural unemployment and underemployment. It would also lift incomes for the most vulnerable households, helping to significantly reduce income inequality.

Paying for the Green New Deal

We will need revenues between $700 billion to $1 trillion annually for the Green New Deal. $400 billion will be for the public jobs programs. Estimates for the transition to 100% clean energy start at $200 billion a year.

Economists predict that we can build a 100 percent renewable energy system at costs comparable to or less than what we would have to spend to continue our reliance on dirty energy. The International Energy Agency estimates that limiting warming to 2° C would require an additional investment of about 1 percent of global GDP per year. (We Have the Power, Environment America and the Frontier Group, http://bit.ly/1qlnotd), which would be $170 billion a year for the US. The former chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made similar estimates.

Jacobson estimates that the total capital cost to go to 100% renewable energy in the US should be $13.4 trillion, (web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pdf) but all parties agree that much of the needed capital can be covered by diverting existing investments in nonrenewable energy – a requirement that the public sector would need to create and implement. America’s coal and nuclear power stations are old and many are dilapidated.  Improving them and continuing to keep them running, to keep generating profit for monopoly utilities is costing everyone more.  Diminishing supplies of economically recoverable coal (lower parts of seams with greater “overburden” are what is left now) have driven many coal companies out of business and made this energy source unreliable now, as well as unhealthy.  They are leaving mining sites unremediated and promised pensions unfunded. Large corporations are walking away from the existing power stations, closing them and laying off the workers.  A new system will need to be constructed.

Prices for renewable energy have been falling fast in recent years, to the point that “everything you think you know about renewable energy is outdated,” as Joe Romm states in his new series and presentations.  The plunging cost of clean energy will continue to reduce the costs in the years ahead, plus eliminate fuel costs. The report above shows that between 2009 and 2014, the cost of solar electricity in the United States fell by 78 percent and the cost of wind energy fell by 58 percent. In many parts of the United States, wind is now the cheapest source of electricity, and solar power is on track to be the cheapest source of power in many parts of the world in the near future. Renewable energy technologies are also continually improving in performance.

When we make the investment to clean up our emissions and waste, our economy will be revitalized by the wealth created.  Our national security will no longer be vulnerable to disruption of oil supplies, and we won’t have to send our people abroad to fight wars for oil. Using renewable energy instead of coal and gas will mean health care costs will go down because the foundations of a green economy – clean energy, healthy food, pollution prevention, and active transportation – are also the foundations of human health. Preventable chronic disease, which consume a staggering 75% of health care costs, will drop. All in all, this is an investment in our future that will pay off enormously as we build healthy, just, sustainable communities.

According to Jacobson et al, converting to 100% clean energy would also eliminate about 62000 (19000–115000) U.S. air pollution premature mortalities per year today, avoiding 600 billion ($85–$2400 billion) per year (2013 dollars) in 2050.  There is reason to believe these are very conservative estimates or great underestimates, as much larger array of diseases and cognitive deficiencies are now being to air pollution and traffic/burning from combustion engines. Converting would further eliminate $3.3 (1.9–7.1) trillion per year in 2050 global warming costs to the world due to U.S. emissions. These plans will result in each person in the U.S. in 2050 saving $260 (190–320) per year in energy costs ($2013 dollars) and U.S. health and global climate costs per person decreasing by $1500 (210–6000) per year and $8300 (4700–17600) per year, respectively.

The Green New Deal includes a major redirection or cut in the federal military budget, which would free up from $300 to $500 billion a year. The $1 trillion in current annual United States military spending is equivalent to the rest of the world’s military budgets combined. A 50% cut would leave us a budget that is still three times the size of China’s, the next biggest spender. U.S. military expenditures have doubled over the past decade without improving security. At the same time, our shift towards a policy of “full spectrum dominance” and expanding American empire has proven counterproductive to peace and security.  Our path of oil defense and rising climate risk has angered and removed the homes, livelihoods, and reliable food sources of many. Scientists are now finding that systems promoting rising rather than diminishing inequality produce greater insecurity too.

A carbon fee will help ensure more realistic fossil fuel prices that include the cost to the environment, and are high enough to tackle climate change effectively by creating the economic incentive to drive efficiency and bring alternative fuels to market. This will provide funding for the Green New Deal and safety nets to those vulnerable to higher prices via rapidly rising carbon taxes. We advocate establishing an Oil Legacy Fund, paid for by a tax on the assets of oil and gas companies. The monies raised would help deal with the effects of climate change and smooth the transition to a low-carbon economy.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a carbon tax of $20 per ton would raise $120 billion a year. [19] We would support a carbon tax of at least $60 per ton ($360 billion per year) and then rising $15 to $20 ton year. (Some of the carbon tax revenues would be rebated in various forms to low and middle income households to offset the regressive nature of any consumption or sales tax.)

A carbon tax is an “upstream” tax on the carbon contents of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and biofuels. A carbon tax is the most efficient means to instill crucial price signals that spur carbon-reducing investment. A carbon tax can also be used to recapture some of the costs pushed on to taxpayers and consumers from burning fossil fuels. Unlike cap-and-trade, carbon taxes don’t create complex and easily-gamed “carbon markets” with allowances, trading and offsets. Also, because carbon taxes / fees are predictable, unlike volatile cap-and-trade markets, it is easier to plan clean energy investments to avoid carbon taxes.

The wealthy, who have most benefited from the excessive burning of fossil fuels, should pay increased taxes to help with the cost of transitioning to a green economy.  Both Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein and now Hillary Clinton call for higher estates tax on the wealthiest Americans; raising the top income tax rate while lowering it for low and middle income Americans; and, closing various tax loopholes especially for corporations. The tax proposal advanced by Sen. Sanders recently, including a financial transaction tax, would raise an extra $130 billion a year.[20]

[1] truthdig.com/report/item/with_300_billion_the_president_can_reduce_unemployment_to_zero_20110908

[2] slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/03/22/james_hansen_sea_level_rise_climate_warning_passes_peer_review.html

[3] https://catholicclimatemovement.global/what-will-it-take-to-limit-climate-change-to-1-5-degrees-c/

[4] http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NewYorkWWSEnPolicy.pdf

[5] http://phys.org/news/2016-04-fossil-fuels-phased-worldwide-decade.html

[6] (http://thesolutionsproject.org/clean-disruption-stanford-group-plans-100-green-energy-future/)

[7] http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/20/over-3-times-more-green-jobs-per-million-than-fossil-fuel-or-nuclear-jobs/.

[8] Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Helen Scharber, Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy http://www.peri.umass.edu/green_recovery/

[9] Jason Walsh and Sarah White, Greener Pathways: Jobs and Workforce Development in the Clean Energy Economy (Madison, WI: Center on Wisconsin Strategy, 2008), http://www.cows.org/pdf/rp-greenerpathways.pdf

[10] Jennifer Cleary and Allison Kopicki, Preparing the Workforce for a “Green Jobs” Economy , (Rutgers, New Jersey: John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, February 2009), http://www.heldrich.rutgers.edu/uploadedFiles/Publications/Heldrich%20Center_Green%20Jobs%20Brief.pdf

[11] http://www.sustainablecommunitiesleadershipacademy.org/resource_files/documents/green-boot-camp-resource-guide.pdf

[12] https://www.wired.com/2010/01/jobs-for-main-street-act/

[13] http://www.transportationequity.org/images/downloads/MoreTransit=MoreJobs-final.pdf

[14] (https://www.ceoe.udel.edu/about/affiliated-programs/special-initative-on-offshore-wind)

[15] http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Newsroom/2015-Announcements/2015-03-10-Report-on-Offshore-Wind-Power-for-New-York-Provides-Roadmap-for-Reducing-Costs)

[16] Harvey’s budget on the cost of creating 1 million public jobs is in Table 3 http://www.demos.org/publication/back-work-public-jobs-proposal-economic-recovery

[17] http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/01/employer-of-last-resort-a-completely-american-solution-to-unemployment/

[18] https://berniesanders.com/issues/creating-jobs-rebuilding-america/

[19] https://www.cbo.gov/publication/44223

[20] http://taxfoundation.org/article/details-and-analysis-senator-bernie-sanders-s-tax-plan

 

 

 



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