Green New Deal (GND)

The concept was first defined in academic works in the UK and in a common publication of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Download of the 2008 publication of the Green New Deal Group – published by net (the new economics foundation).

The most common understanding of the GND is through the parallel with the “New Deal” of the Roosevelt administration in 1932, a vast programme of investments in infrastructure as a recovery program launched in the wake of the Great Crash of 1929.

Global economy is facing a triple crunch: credit-fueled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices underpinned by a peak in oil production.

Following to the financial and economic crisis of 2008, European governments have launched national recovery packages with more or less green elements pushing green markets. The green share of recovery programmes is part of a new strategy focussing on climate and energy issues and promoting eco-industries.

This strategy is called the Green New Deal. It comprises targeted state investments in activities that reduce the impact on the environment, protecting water, air and soil.

Green investments must become a driver of the economic activity. Eco-industries can generate considerable turnover and employment, potentials for further growth. But green economic growth has to be supported while reducing the level of natural resource consumption.

GND calls for a sustained programme to invest in and deploy energy conservation and renewable energies, coupled with effective demand management. Investments in energy and transport infrastructure as well as in agriculture are needed to make those sectors energy efficient and resource-saving.

There should be no restriction or privatization of social security systems. Social protection in terms of employment or health policy should be developed in a way to find a right balance between rights and responsibility. It has to give citizens the possibility to get back autonomy in case of crisis but not to create a situation of dependency.

Innovation goes beyond technological progress. It is the ability to find efficient and practical solutions at all levels by mixing concepts and ideas. The GND will give the financial and human resources needed to develop an innovation culture.

Nowadays, while unemployment rates have soared, there is a lack of professionals in technical professions and in the field of health care and education. We should invest in education and training to boost creativity, initiative and commitments from all citizens.

All investments should come from both public and private sectors, from households and enterprises. They will lead to green jobs, either by creating new jobs in the green sector or by greening existing ones. While increasing labour productivity, working conditions as well as all factors of production, particularly environmental externalities, must be taken into account.

To make this GND happen, the four pillars of investment described above must rely on 2 fundamentals: market regulation and taxation.

A strong and simple market regulation will allow markets to work properly. Autoregulation is not an option. Only public authorities should have the mandate to deliver such rules and to enforce them to defend general interest.

Ruling should also include norms and standards, for exemple in terms of products, working conditions, environmental protection, that will fix the goals but also set the limits of human activities.

Taxation policy is an essential instrument of the GND. A structural transformation of the regulation of national and international financial systems and major changes to taxation systems are needed. Green tax and subsidy policies contribute to a socially and environmentally fair economy.

A green socio-ecological tax reform shifts the balance away from labour onto the use of finite natural resources and a greater taxation of capital. CO2 and energy taxes must be central elements in favour of the environment and against climate change. Renewables should be less taxed when compared to fossil energy and incentives for energy efficiency should be developed, for exemple in the housing sector socially designed subsidies should encourage energy efficiency. Eco-taxes and eco-bonuses bring about a sustainable economy through the promotion of eco-friendly products and services.

In order to discourage financial speculation, which represents a great risk of destabilizing the real economy, and help reducing the volatility of the international financial markets, a tax on financial transactions should be introduced.

Income taxation should take into account all sources of income. It must be progressive to ensure that people contribute according to their ability to pay. Tax reliefs must encourage sustainable investment. A harmonized tax basis should ensure that corporations contribute their fair share of tax revenues across the Union.

Fighting tax evasion and tax fraud must be a priority.

For more information:

A study commissioned by the Greens-EFA to the Wuppertal Institute “Towards green modernisation in the face of a crisis” can be downloaded from the Greens-EFA website – documents – Green New Deal.