Sunday 29 September 2019

Prominent Green Party Member Accuses Other Member of Antisemitism

A complaint has been made through the Green Party’s internal complaints procedure about Shahrar Ali, a former deputy leader of the party, accusing him of antisemitism. A statement has been issued by supporters of Ali in the party, reproduced in full here below, with permission, about the allegations. 

London Green Left Blog has learnt that the complainant member, is a very prominent member indeed, but we are not at liberty now to reveal their identity. When the original external complaint was made by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) in August last year, I wrote a piece on this blog criticising the Left Foot Forward, for twisting the story. I also raised the question of the motivation of the writer.

Well, I have to question the motivation of the complainant member is in this instance as well. Would it be normal for a member, especially such a prominent member, to point the CAA in the direction of the party's external communications procedure, rather than initiate the complaint for them? Why use the members procedure, personally, yourself? I won't speculate further than this, at this stage.

Members of the Green Party of England and Wales can add their support to the statement, by following the instructions at the end. Over one hundred members have signed the statement, including myself, they are listed below.


We, the undersigned, are deeply troubled to learn of the Green Party’s complicity in targeting Shahrar Ali for allegations of antisemitism. A prominent Party member has now chosen to facilitate a complaint against Ali on behalf of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the Party’s own Disciplinary Committee has decided to launch an investigation.

CAA is a campaign which systematically makes accusations of antisemitism against pro-Palestine activists. To take up this complaint would be to collude in an anti-Palestinian agenda that would also discredit the Green Party. It is astonishing that the Party could fall for such a tactic, unwittingly or through lack of political courage.

CAA continue to make unfounded allegations about Ali’s 2009 speech – in which he spoke out against Israel’s onslaught of the Gaza children – and now they choose to criticise his 2018 speech to Autumn conference, in which he spoke against the Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition (

Conference voted to refer back the pro-IHRA motion, despite initial support from prominent GP politicians. Ali, alongside concerned Jewish Greens and others, spoke against its adoption and the associated contentious examples. The outcome was widely reported (

The IHRA definition poses a serious threat to academic freedom and freedom of expression by conflating opposition to Israeli policies with antisemitism and threatening to undermine many years of practical solidarity with the Palestinian people, including BDS in the face of decades of dispossession and occupation.

A complaint which now exploits the definition, without the backing of conference, in order to frame allegations against a member is itself evidence of this threat. For the Green Party to sponsor a politically motivated external campaign against one of its own spokespersons is an affront on the following grounds:

1.       It would undermine the members’ complaints process, which is for members only, and thereby breach the constitution.

2.       It would enable those who have lost a conference debate to collaborate or conspire with external groups to interfere with our internal democracy and policy-making.

One wouldn’t expect a Party member to stoop so low, but it’s happening now.

Following the 2018 leadership elections, and negative campaign against Ali, GPRC confirmed that Ali was not under investigation for his 2009 speech and ruled “the matter closed” (29 Aug). In Jan 2019, the Green Party condemned the way in which its statements “were used to fuel further stories and negative comment” towards Ali: Given that Ali received full sign off for the 2009 speech, a complaint against him would be a complaint against the Party itself.

The Party has since suspended a member for their role in the antisemitism smear campaign, and subsequent harassment of Ali. It is completely untenable now for the Green Party to bring a complaint against Ali on similar, now discredited, grounds.

It is vitally important that Greens are able to continue to speak out to challenge Israel’s history of racism towards the Palestinians without fear of being labelled as antisemitic. In 2014, Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told a news conference that Israeli policies bore, “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing”.

We call upon the Green Party to withdraw this politically motivated and internally damaging complaint and to work alongside Shahrar Ali to respond, as appropriate, to politically motivated attacks in the best tradition of the Party.

The Green Party must instead investigate the misuse and abuse of process which risks engendering a hostile environment internally.

In order to support this petition please email with your name and affiliation and please say if you do not wish to receive updates on the progress of this petition.

Delegates to the forthcoming Party conference should also be alive to motions and amendments that would have the effect of further weaponising the Party’s complaints process – and vote accordingly.


1.              Les Levidow, Camden Green Party, Jewish Network for Palestine (JNP), Jews for         Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

2.              Dee Searle, Camden Green Party & GPEx officer

3.              Martin Francis, Brent Green Party & Palestine Solidarity Campaign

4.              Arthur Hayles, Greenwich & Bexley Green Party & Palestine Solidarity Campaign

5.              Peter Murry, Brent Green Party

6.              Malcolm Bailey, Luton & Bedfordshire GP; Chair, Green Left

7.              Mike Sumner, Camden Green Party

8.              John Youatt, Derbyshire GP, Medical Aid for Palestine & Palestine Solidarity Campaign

9.              Michael Wilde, Elmet & Rothwell Green Party

10.          Deborah Fink, Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party, Jewish Greens, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

11.          Julie Forshaw, Labour Party & disability rights campaigner

12.          Peter Caton, Barking, Dagenham & Havering Green Party

13.          Mark Douglas, Life Member, Hackney Green Party since 1985

14.          Bob Helson, Bristol Green Party

15.          Ed Broomfield, Green Party officer for East Hampshire Green Party

16.          Dawn Furness, Blyth Valley Green Party, PPC and GPEx officer

17.          Mike Shone, GPRC Co-Chair 2014-2015, Stafford and Stone Green Party, co-ordinated establishment of Disciplinary Committee

18.          Ken Huggins, North Dorset Green Party

19.          James Dickins, Leeds North-West Green Party

20.          David Taylor, Bridgwater & West Somerset Green Party (and Chair, Unite Branch SW/11999)

21.          Mike Shaughnessy, Haringey Green Party

22.          Alan Wheatley, Hereford & South Herefordshire Green Party

23.          Graham Wroe, life member, Green Party

24.          Alison Teal, Cllr Nether Edge and Sharrow, Sheffield Green Party

25.          Ann Williams, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party

26.          Annie Neligan, Craven and Ripon Green party

27.          Andrew Bradbury, Adur Green Party

28.          Paul Philo, Brighton and Hove Green Party

29.          Cath Newnham, Radnor Green Party

30.          Cllr Peter Barnett, Green Party Executive Committee member (personal capacity)

31.          Pamela Rosling, North Dorset Green Party

32.          Scott Bartle, Brent Green Party

33.          Tony Matthews, Cardiff Green Party

34.          Tony Fawcett, Mansfield Green Party and Green Left member

35.          Ellie Crane, South Cambridgeshire Green Party

36.          Harvey Elliott, Allerdale and Copeland Green Party

37.          Noel Lynch, Barnet Green Party Officer, Former GLA Member

38.          Stephen Taylor FRSA, GP candidate for Barnet & Camden, 2016

39.          Dylan Körner, GPEW

40.          Alan Story, Sheffield Green Party

41.          Lucy Early, Greenwich Green Party

42.          Raymond Obedencio, Barnet Green Party

43.          Ben Samuel, Green Party

44.          Umberto Albarella, Sheffield Green Party

45.          Juliette de Tosni - Tauvignon, Sheffield Green Party

46.          Dr Jillian Creasy, Sheffield Green Party

47.          Heather Hunt, Sheffield Green Party (member since 1989)

48.          Steve Connor, Leeds Green Party

49.          Chris Lemin, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party

50.          Beverly Cross, Treasurer, Sheffield Green Party

51.          Dr Jay Ginn, Croydon and Sutton Green Party

52.          Steve Dawe, Oxfordshire Green Party

53.          Bo Meson, Sheffield Green Party

54.          Prof S Sayyid, Leeds

55.          Janet Watson, Leeds

56.          Julie Taylor, GPEW

57.          Bill Linton, GPEW

58.          Peter Garbutt, Acting Chair Sheffield Green Party, councillor Nether Edge and Sharrow Ward, Sheffield City Council (personal capacities)

59.          Claudine Letsae, Greenwich & Bexley GP, Ex Diversity and Equality Coordinator GPEW

60.          Hazel Dawe, GPEW

61.          Clive Martin, Taunton Deane Green Party

62.          Sarah Wiltshire, GPEW

63.          Christine Bridges, GPEW

64.          Charles Graham, Sedgemoor & West Somerset Green party

65.          Rosalind Wollen, Sheffield Green Party

66.          Roy Sandison, Rugby Green Party

67.          Alan Borgars, North Staffordshire Green Party, PPC

68.          Simon Glover, GPEW

69.          Anne Gray, Haringey Green Party

70.          Norma Stout

71.          Fergal McEntee, Wandsworth Green Party membership officer and Media officer

72.          Rebecca Ruth Gould, Professor, Islamic World & Comparative Literature, University of Birmingham

73.          John Boyd, Membership Secretary Merton Green Party

74.          Dr Rasha Soliman, Lecturer in Arabic Language, University of Leeds

75.          Andrea Carey Fuller, Lewisham Green Party & Lewisham Deptford General Election Candidate

76.          Rashid Nix, GPEx officer, Equalities and Diversity

77.          Michael Gold, GPEW

78.          Megan Povey, Leeds

79.          Rachel Hope

80.          Alexi Dimond, Sheffield Green Party

81.          Ken Burgess

82.          Lynn Finnigan, Adur Green Party

83.          Bob Murphy, Green Party member Brighton and Hove

84.          Marc Scheimann, Luton and Bedfordshire Green party, parliamentary candidate in Luton South in 2017

85.          Neil Parsons, Cornwall Green Party

86.          Diana Korchien, Media Team Coordinator, Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party

87.          Cllr Tony Pearce, Stafford and Stone Green Party

88.          Geoff Richardson

89.          Jim McGinley, WIrral Green Party Chair and Local Co-ordinator

90.          Earl Bramley-Howard, SW Green Party

91.          Nicole Haydock, Bury Green Party

92.          Susan Tibbles, Oxfordshire Green Party

93.          Jenny Richardson, Sheffield Green Party

94.          Chris Glenn

95.          Nick Hooper - Southwark Green Party

96.          Paul Ingram, Southwark Green Party, former Co-Leader Oxford City Council (2000-02), 2nd on London list for European Elections 2004

97.          François Guesdon, Sheffield Green Party

98.          Kirsten de Keyser, Camden Green Party, PPC Holborn & St Pancras, GLA Candidate Barnet & Camden

99.          Julie Birch Holt, Liverpool Green Party

100.            Jeremy David Parker, Ealing Green Party

101.            Lily Clough, Wirral Green Party

102.            Harry Ross Gorman, Secretary of Wirral Green Party

103.            Chris Cooke, Wirral Green Party

104.            A Burton, Wirral Green Party

105.            Charles Birch, Bridgwater & West Somerset GP

106.            Donald Mollison, Green Party member & Quaker Sanctuary Everywhere

107.            Catherine Toch

108.            Sarah Perrigo, Labour Party Leeds NE CLP, Associate member of Jewish voices for Labour

109.            Madeleine Atkins, Harrow Green Party

110.            Linda Oubridge, Salisbury Green Party

111.            Shaka Lish, Brent Green Party

112.            Claire Stephenson, Blackpool and Flyde Green Party

113.            Derek Hardman, Mid-Sussex Green Party, Crawley and Horsham

114.            Jonathan Essex, East Surrey Green Party

115.            Lois Davis, Wandsworth Green Party

116.            Alix Cockcroft, Wirral Green Party

117.            Jenni Agricola, Isle of Wight Green Party

In order to support this petition please email with your name and affiliation and please say if you do not wish to receive updates on the progress of this petition.

Delegates to the forthcoming Party conference should also be alive to motions and amendments that would have the effect of further weaponising the Party’s complaints process – and vote accordingly.

Saturday 28 September 2019

Perspectives on eco-socialism

A review of two books about ecosocialism.

Facing the Apocalypse: Arguments for Ecosocialism
by Alan Thornett
Resistance Books, 2019

Eco-socialism has been a topic addressed by an increasing number of books in recent years. 2019 has already witnessed the addition of two books to the body of literature. In Facing the Apocalypse, Alan Thornett, a former trade union activist in the British automobile industry during the 1960s and 1970s, has written a readable and engaging argument for the need to turn to eco-socialism as a strategy to mitigate climate change. He supports the Red Green Labour network, an eco-socialist current within the Labour Party. Conversely, in Eco-Socialism for Now and the Future, the prolific political economist Robert Albritton, a professor emeritus at York University in Toronto, provides a detailed litany of the short-comings of the capitalist world system, but has far less to say about eco-socialism per se than the former.

Facing the apocalypse

The key motivating factor for Thornett in Facing the Apocalypse is his opinion that the left’s record on the environment has been ‘bleak’. Thornett laments that most left organizations across the world, including socialist and Marxist groups, give scant attention to the ecological crisis, often arguing that they have many other demands upon them. Thornett’s stated aim is to provoke discussion about strategies which will better enable the left to play a positive role in the current struggle to avert ecological apocalypse. 

He begins by covering a lot of material that will be familiar to eco-socialists, namely on planetary boundaries; water issues, agriculture, biofuel production, and urban water consumption; pollution, such as oceanic dead zones, air pollution, and plastic waste; and the 6th extinction of species, which is essential reading for leftists not as familiar with these topics. 

Turning to how the left can begin to make sense of these issues, Thornett provides an excellent overview of the ecological legacy of both classical Marxism, as exemplified in the work of Marx, Engels, William Morris, and Edward Carpenter, and later leftist thinkers concerned with the ecological crisis, including Scott Nearing, Murray Bookchin, Rachel Carson, Roderick Frazier Nash, Barry Commoner, Raymond Williams and Derek Wall. 

Shifting to the Global South, he also discusses the indigenous struggle for environmental sustainability as highlighted by the work of Hugo Blanco in Peru, Vandana Shiva in India, and Chico Mendes and Sister Dorothy Stag in Brazil. While the term eco-socialism has only appeared over the course of the past 35 years or so, Thornett makes it clear that eco-socialism draws from a line of thinkers extending back to Marx himself.

In his analysis of the efforts that have been made to address the climate change crisis thus far, Thornett juxtaposes conventional and Global South approaches. In the case of the former, he argues that the Paris Agreement was ‘deeply flawed’ in various ways, particularly in that it ‘was based on non-legally binding pledges to reduce remissions’ (pp. 78-29). 

Nevertheless, while he acknowledges that the Paris Agreement operates within capitalist parameters, he maintains it provides a ‘new dynamic from which a new round (or stage) for the struggle could be launched’ (p.82). In my view this is a little too optimistic. I tend to view the Paris Agreement as a distraction, creating the false sense that the powers-that-be now take climate change seriously. Various analysts have argued that even if all countries were to meet their voluntary reduction targets, the climate is still slated to rise by 2.7 to 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. 

As such, the Paris Agreement fails to carry on the spirit of the 2010 Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth drafted in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which was led by indigenous people and recognized the role of global capitalism in exploiting nature, thus contributing to the ecological crisis and climate change. Unfortunately, to date, there appears to be no clear indications that either the earlier People’s Conference resolutions or the 2015 Paris Agreement have significantly reversed an on-going increase in greenhouse gas emissions, let alone mount a serious challenge to the growth paradigm of global capitalism that drives this increase.

After laying his foundations by summarizing the various facets of the environmental crisis and laying out the basis for a Marxist position on ecology, Thornett moves on to assessing recent attempts that have been made to further eco-socialism as a political project. The book discusses various eco-socialist developments, but particularly focusses upon the Ecosocialist International Network (EIN), which served as the platform for an eco-socialist manifesto drafted by Michael Lowy and the late Joel Kovel in 2001. He laments that the EIN ‘has failed to make progress in recent years, and eco-socialism remains a minority position on the radical left today’ (p. 92). 

Nevertheless, some European parties define themselves as eco-socialist, including the Red-Green Alliance in Denmark, the Left Bloc in Portugal, the Socialist Left Party in Norway, and the Parti de Gauche in France. From my position in Australia, I would also note that the Socialist Alliance, a small party in Australia, defines itself as eco-socialist and publishes the Green Left Weekly newspaper. Conversely, Socialist Alternative, the largest socialist group in Australia, does not define itself as eco-socialist. Ringing true in relation to my own national experience, Thornett’s argument that too many socialists continue to ignore or at least downplay the environmental devastation created by capitalism, choosing to focus on exclusively on its exploitation of the working class, is a compelling one.

Turning to the question of ‘what is to be done’ if these eco-socialist currents are to have a greater impact, Thornett draws attention to various matters that need to be urgently addressed, including the need to develop a strategy that forces capitalism to ‘make major change in the course of the long struggle for socialism’ (p. 100), whether carbon taxes can serve as a radical transitional reform, the Stalinist legacy vis-à-vis environmental degradation, and population growth, with the latter being a contested issue on the far left. 

While carbon taxes are in my view preferable to emissions trading schemes, thus far most countries that have implemented them, particularly the Scandinavian ones, have not established particularly high carbon prices that have resulted in significant reductions in emissions. In his analysis of population growth, which he defines as an ecofeminist concern, Thornett argues that the ‘stabilisation of the global human populations would create a better basis on which to tackle the ecological crisis’ (p. 161-162). 

Any effort to reduce population growth would have to address two issues: (1) improving the overall standard of living among the poorest people in the world, which would require creating an even playing field, and reducing the wealth of the affluent sectors of both developed and developing countries and (2) empowering women and girls by challenging patriarchy on all fronts, including in religious institutions. When considering Thornett’s emphasis on the need to address the Stalinist legacy of environmental degradation, it is clear that we must acknowledge that the Soviet bloc countries were forced to play catch-up with developed capitalist countries, particularly the United States, in the context of the Cold War. 

I personally witnessed this first hand during my stint as a Fulbright Lecturer in the German Democratic Republic, a country which relied on lignite coal for energy production due to short supply of alternative sources. Therefore, it is essential that those who take-on Thornett’s call to challenge Stalinist legacies take note of the much changed international context we face today.

In his concluding chapters of the book, Thornett provides an assessment of the environmental struggle in Britain. Notably he praises the progress the Labour Party has made under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, which has pledged support for the Paris Agreement, a new clean air act, banning fracking, renationalizing Britain’s energy system, and promoting a renewables industry with unionized labor. 

Hopefully, however, eco-socialists within the Labour Party can push it beyond a largely ecological modernization agenda that can be incorporated within a green capitalist framework. He appeals to the left, given the gravity of the ecological and climate crises, to ‘become far more engaged with the environmental struggle’ (p. 222). I could not agree more.

Eco-socialism for now and the future

Albritton’s book is worthwhile reading because it provides us with a detailed litany of the short-comings of the capitalist world system that warrant contemplating an eco-socialist alternative. He reports that the earliest usage of the term eco-socialism may harken back to a pamphlet titled Eco-Socialism in a Nutshell published in 1980 in Britain by the Socialist Environment and Resources Association. Albritton argues that ‘since the publication of this pamphlet, ‘eco-socialism’ has come to be seen by large numbers of people as the theoretical and action concept most appropriate for mobilizing against capitalism in the twenty-first century’ (p. 5).

One of Albritton’s key aims in his book is to promote ‘practical utopias’ to conceptualize changes that are seen as desirable but may also seem too global or too difficult to achieve without a very distant time frame (i.e. hopefully less than a century for the more difficult changes) (p. 23). Unfortunately, he fails to acknowledge an earlier book that is highly relevant in this regard: Envisioning Real Utopias (2010) by the late sociologist Erik Olin Wright, in which he defines ‘real utopias’ as visions that are achievable through much theorizing and social experimentation and provides numerous examples of real utopias.

Albritton observes that while capitalism is the source of numerous crises, he asserts that the ‘greatest crises that we now face are primarily ecological’, and that ‘for the most part, capitalism cannot deal with ecological crises in an effective way’ (p. 42). He calls for an ethics of caring for both humanity and the eco-system, noting that a good educational system can play a key role in promoting ethical behavior, including in terms of dealing with ‘democracy, social justice, equality, climate change, cooperation, generosity, citizenship, openness to diversity, or caring for the earth’s inhabitants and bio-systems’ (p. 49).

In contrast to communism, socialism as a transitional stage would still entail some differential material reward structure. Albritton suggests that possibly a ‘ratio of highest income to lowest of four to one might be justified, but such a ratio would need to be debated’ (p. 67). He recommends several gradual approaches for redistributing wealth, including raising taxes for the rich, shortening the work day, lowering the cost of basic necessities (or even making them free), extending education and training, and eliminating tax dodging, tax loopholes, and tax havens. 

Although Albritton’s catalogue of practical utopian reforms seem desirable, they have plainly been thought out with application to developed capitalist countries in mind.  In contrast, the book does not spell out how such measures might apply to developing countries or how to resolve the inequalities existing between developed and developing societies.

While Albritton recognizes that the problems that humanity faces must be addressed at many levels, ranging from local to global, he nevertheless acknowledges that overall ‘it is easier to start locally and build up’ (p. 121). Unfortunately, he does not touch in detail upon the role of anti-systemic movements and radical political parties in contributing to such a process. In my view, coordinating the efforts of a wide array of anti-systemic movements, and in a sense create a global meta-movement that seeks to achieve social justice and parity, democratic processes, environmental sustainability, and a safe climate, is vitally important. 

This is especially so when we can observe that even when radical political parties come to power, as we have seen in recent times under the guise of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia and Syriza in Greece, they face incredible opposition both internally, from local elites and even middle-class people, and externally from hegemonic powers, ranging from multi-national corporations to the United States to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Beyond green capitalism

As a long-time eco-socialist who has worked on environmental issues for some time, including climate change since 2005, I find both Facing the Apocalypse and Eco-Socialism for Now and the Future to be engaging and readable books accessible to both academics and social activists. Thornett’s book provides us with valuable information on efforts to promote eco-socialism within the British Labour Party, something which has not happened to its rough counterpart in the United States, the Democratic Party, even on the part of Bernie Sanders. 

Sadly, in Australia the Australian Labor Party, which lost the recent federal election, is completely clueless of an eco-socialist agenda and the leadership of the Greens are resistant to it, even if some of its members are eco-socialists or ‘water melons’ (green on the outside, red on the inside). 

Albritton’s book makes some valuable suggestions for system-challenging transitional reforms that could pave the way to eco-socialism. I welcome both books to the growing literature on eco-socialism, a space to which both academics and activists continue to add, in a time when it becomes increasingly apparent that green capitalist and green social democratic proposals are insufficient to contain the ecological and climatic crises and address social justice issues. 

Humanity faces two overarching imperatives which are intricately interwoven, how do we live in harmony with each other and how do we live in harmony with our fragile eco-system. The more difficult task is how to go from the existing capitalist world system to an eco-socialist one.

Hans A Baer is based at the at the University of Melbourne. He has published on a diversity of research topics, including Mormonism, African-American religion, socio-political life in East Germany, critical health anthropology, and Australian climate politics. Baer’s most recent books include Global Warming and the Political Ecology of Health (with Merrill Singer, Left Coast Press, 2009), Global Capitalism and Climate Change (AltaMira, 2012), Climate Politics and the Climate Movement in Australia (with Verity Burgmann, Melbourne University Press, 2012),  The Anthropology of Climate Change (with Merrill Singer, Routledge, 2014; 2nd edition, 2018), Democratic Eco-Socialism as a Real Utopia (Berghahn Books, 2018).

Friday 20 September 2019

Global Climate Strike - London - Photos and Report

On a beautiful sunny Autumn day in London, an estimated 100,000 people turned out at a rally for the Global Climate Strike, close to the Houses Parliament. The crowd was noisy, but good humoured, as they listened to speeches from politicians and activists, urging the British government to take urgent action on the climate emergency.

Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, was one of those who addressed the demonstrators. She began by noting that in May parliament had passed a motion declaring a climate emergency. “So don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not making a difference,” she told the crowd. “You are making history.”

Calling it “the biggest social justice issue of our time”, Lucas said the government needed to make more urgent plans than the commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

She said:

"The truth is that a climate target of net zero by 2050 is not climate leadership. When your house is on fire you don’t call 999 and ask for a fire engine in 30 years’ time. You want urgent action now."

As with other FridayForFuture events, there were many school students and young people on the demonstration, but were joined by trade unionists today.


There were protests all over the world today, stressing the same sentiment. This is our home, there is no planet B.

Great day out, and so inspiring to see that our climate emergency is concerning more and more people. The politicians need to wake up, and take actions to reduce human impact on the earth. 

Thursday 19 September 2019

System Change needed to fight Climate Change

Written By Mike Cease and first published at Tucson Sentinel

Climate change is the most catastrophic environmental, social and economic crisis that the human species has ever faced. Impacts include rising average temperatures, vanishing polar ice, melting glaciers, stronger storms, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, worsening droughts, growing deserts, increasing wildfires, more disease, hunger, world-wide climate refugees and human misery.

While the ruling class mostly denies or ignores the issue, young people get it. 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sailed into New York last month and led hundreds of young people striking in front of the United Nations for climate action now. Thunberg was interviewed on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" program this week and she said, "We are striking to disrupt the system."

System change to fight climate change is what is needed now. I believe that too much of the discussion on climate change is framed as what we need to do to "prevent it" such as "by 2030" or "by 2050." This phraseology fails to acknowledge that we have already entered into the realm of a CCC (Climate Change Catastrophe).

In order for our response to the CCC to be effective, the solutions must be massive, far-reaching and systemic. The Green Party's vision for mobilization and transformation is known as the Green New Deal. The real GND will fundamentally change the decaying fossil fuel economy into a new, green economy that is environmentally sustainable, economically secure and socially just.

F.D.R.'s New Deal of the 1930s provides historical context of scale. The Green Party's GND also encompasses our vision for eco-socialism and reparations.

[W]e will build an economy based on large-scale green public works, municipalization, and workplace and community democracy. Some call this decentralized system 'ecological socialism,' 'communalism,' or the 'cooperative commonwealth,' but whatever the terminology, we believe it will help end labor exploitation, environmental exploitation, and racial, gender, and wealth inequality and bring about economic and social justice … Production is best for people and planet when democratically owned and operated by those who do the work.

We commit to full and complete reparations to the African American community of this nation for the past four hundred plus years of genocide, slavery, land-loss, destruction of original identity and the stark disparities which haunt the present evidenced in unemployment statistics, substandard and inadequate education, higher levels of mortality including infant and maternal mortality and the practice of mass incarceration. We recognize that reparations are a debt (not charity) ... We believe that the leadership on the question of what our nation owes to this process of right ought to come from the African American community, whose right to self-determination and autonomy to chart the path to healing we fully recognize.

According to Tony Davis of the Arizona Daily Star's and Andrew Howard of Cronkite News' April 29, 2019 article, Tucson is the third-fastest-warming city in the U.S. A National Climate Assessment report for the Southwest region details climate change impact to the region and to Southern Arizona in terms of water, wildfires, extreme heat and human health.

What does the Green New Deal look like for the city of Tucson?

One example is the city of Seattle in an article entitled "What would a city-level green new deal look like? Seattle's about to find out" by Kristoffer Tigue of, August 17, 2019. Tucson is also going to have a city-level Green New Deal. As mayor, I am going to bring System Change to fight Climate Change right here in our own community.

In addition to facing a climate crisis, Tucson also faces an economic crisis. We are one of the top-ten most economically distressed cities in the nation according to CityLab's Sarah Holder in an article entitled America's Most and Least Distressed Cities" on September 26, 2017.

As mayor, I will implement the real Green New Deal for Tucson in a large-scale mobilization to respond to the dual challenges posed by both the climate and the economy. This will include retrofitting hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses with energy conservation, solar and water harvesting with thousands of new living-wage jobs for our community. Furthermore, the city of Tucson's office of Procurement contracting codes will be restructured to include conservation and fair-wage employment criteria.

Tucson's new green economy will also bring long-needed economic and social justice transformations to end exploitation and wealth inequality. Studies have shown that the single most-import measure to improve the economic health and well-being of a community is to enact a living-wage minimum wage ordinance of $15 per hour. It's been done in Flagstaff and other cities and we will do it here on day one. What has been lacking is the political will and that will change.

The question is often posed, "how can we afford to pay for these programs?" I believe that we need to re-frame this question and ask, given both the climate imperative and the economic imperative, "How can we afford NOT to invest in our community?"

The city of Tucson currently has $86 million investment holdings in Wells Fargo Bank, a principle supporter of the socially and environmentally disastrous Dakota Access Pipeline project. We will divest and re-invest these funds into a new municipal community bank. Zero-interest loans will be made to homeowners and businesses based upon future-savings in energy and water bills as one funding mechanism for thousands of energy conservation, solar and water-harvesting retrofit projects to transform our community. 

An additional funding mechanism will be to completely transform economic development spending away from bringing out-of-state firms such as Caterpillar into a new local-first investment paradigm. The city of Tucson currently has a $1.6 billion operating budget. Some of these taxpayer resources must be prioritized to address both the climate crisis and the economic crisis facing our community.

Furthermore, I believe in protecting Tucson's air-quality and water resources. As mayor, I will use the full capacity of the mayor's office to stop the Rosemont mine. If this project goes forward it will have an immensely damaging impact on the quality of life in this community for decades to come. Water is Life!

Mike Cease is the Green Party nominee for mayor of Tucson, Arizona, USA.