Does the world need a “GREEN NEW DEAL”?

by Karl Müller

The text below is to be understood as an invitation, rather than concluding remarks. Starting off from the USA, the “New” has now reached Europe: the idea of a “Green New Deal”. If you enter the term into GOOGLE, you will get 3,5 million entries – effective first December 2019. Scrolling down the first 10 entries you will find almost only positive self-presentations and evaluations – a fact which arouses suspicion. However, it is hard to treat the subject alone, it takes proficient help; for the question is important: What is to be thought of this “Green New Deal” – besides all the apologetics?
On this years party convention of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in Bielefeld in mid-November, the re-elected chairman Robert Habeck pleaded in favour of a “New Green Deal”.1 The idea is an import from the USA. In particular, some left-winged Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocaso-Cortez demanded a “Green New Deal” in their current primary race. The German paper “Handelsblatt” published the following explanation on 5 May of this year:

“The name is to remind the public of the ‘New Deal’, the investments in infrastructure and job-creation schemes, with which Franklin Roosevelt fought the Great Depression’. The Green New Deal is supposed to completely reorganize the economy within the period of the next ten years. Up to that date, 100 percent of the necessary energy are to be derived from ‘sustainable low-emission resources’. Public investments into high-speed-railways among others are to create new jobs for all those who so far have worked in high-emission branches. Job and further training programmes and access to education for everybody are to support the conversion.”

Messages of salvation ….

The statement may be discussed pro and con, but is such a discussion wished for? Just take the titles of the topical books, which were translated into German. They arouse scepticism. Jeremy Rifkin’s book – German edition October 2019 – is entitled:
“The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth”. Naomi Klein’s book “On Fire – The Burning Case for a New Green Deal” was published in early November in German language. These authors have big names. On the one side there is the apocalyptic scenario – on the other side that of salvation the by the “New Green Deal”.
The 24-page booklet edited by the European movement ”The New Green Deal for Europe”, admittedly connecting to the above-quoted US-Americans, was published shortly after this year’s EU parliamentary elections with a big increase in votes and it sounds like a salvation message without any by-effects. The paper is entitled “10 Säulen des ‘Green New Deals’ für Europa”2 (10 pillars of the Green New Deal for Europe). There are sub-titles like “Our effort must meet the extension of the challenge” or “Pumping the non-used resources into public services”, or “Strengthening the citizens and their communes”, “Guaranteeing decent jobs”, “Rising the living standard”, “Codifying equality”, “Investing into the future”, “Away with the dogma of endless growth”, “Climate justice for the whole world”, “We commit ourselves to acting for our environment”.
It is not only about environment protection and economy promotion – rather it is about propaganda for a post-modern model of society.

...which tolerate no back talk

Such salvation messengers do not like any adverse opinions. Said the German internationally most famous Green-politician Joschka Fischer in an interview with the “Basler Zeitung” on 23 November 2019, when confronted with the remark: “Quite a few activists are striving for a ‘Ökodiktatur’ (eco-dictatorship), since they do not believe that democracy is capable of meeting the challenge”: “Forget it”. Is such an answer apt to convince anybody in view of the facts? In Germany there is much resistance against the extension of wind power, since the huge wind turbines do impair the people who live near these monsters. Even the German Federal Government in their coalition agreements stipulated that wind turbines must not be built except in a distance of one kilo meter from the nearest settlement. However, this caused trouble in the coalition, because the SPD (Social Democrats) and Bündnis90/Die Grünen are pushing the extension of wind power, and because it is not clear what exactly a settlement means: Is it only a few houses or does it denote a greater locality?
The Deputy Chairman of the faction Bündnis90/Die Grünen in the German Parliament spoke up in mid-November and denounced the opponents of the wind power as “anti-windcraft-Taliban”,3 which means they are some backwards fanatics and fundamentalist, violent hooligans. The so-called climate-expert of Greenpeace seconded that nobody should be allowed to become the henchman, i.e. “an irrational adversary to climate change and climate protection.” That is what climate is about!
On 28 November a two-thirds-majority of the EU Parliament passed a resolution, which propagates the “climate emergency” throughout the EU. However, there was not only approval: On the same day Spiegel Online quoted the CSU (Christian Social Union) Member of the EU Parliament Markus Ferber: “Whoever proclaims the emergency these days, calls for decisions without democratic legitimation and aims at rendering democratic rights inoperative. These persons are either ignorant of the consequences of what they are talking about or they feel it legitimate to eliminate the democratic process. Both is deeply abhorrent, in particular in view of German history and the year 1933.”
Peter Liese, the German MP (CDU) (Christian Democratic Union) was quoted as follows: “In particular in Germany, by using the term “Notstand” (emergency) democracy was eliminated after Hitler’s seizure of power, and fundamental rights like the freedom of the press were contained. The term causes fear in the first place and awakens expectations of immediate measures, which Europe is not capable of taking”. How far off from reality is this?
For the “Green New Deal” and for globalisation wars one glance at the history of the “New Green Deal” – idea leads to more questions. Thomas L. Friedman, a well-known columnist of the “New York Times” and author of books, used some important key-words in January 2007. In the “New York Times” he wrote the following: “In case you have a wind turbine in your garden or sun-collectors on your roof, hats off! However, in case we want to make the world green, we have to rebuild our whole power supply system – and must say good-bye to dirty coal, dirty oil and focus on clean coal and renewable energies. This is a huge industrial endeavour and much much bigger than everything you have heard of so far. However, if we get involved in this green variant form, it can – just like the New Deal – lead to opening up a new branch for clean energy, which will make our economy fit for the 21st century”.4
Eight years before the same Thomas L. Friedman published a book entitled “The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization”. In the chapter “Geo-politics of globalisation” he not only sang globalisation’s praise but he also emphasised that it was all about a US-American world hegemony project and that the economic world power of the USA cannot be realised without the US military and without wars: “The invisible hand of the market cannot work without the invisible fist. Mc Donald’s cannot flourish without McDonell Douglas, who are building The F 15 for the US Air Force. The invisible fist, which provides for the flourishing of the technologies of the Sillicon Valley, is made of the army, the air force and the marine and the marine infantry of the United States.”
What is the context? Could it be that the concept of the “Green New Deal” is really nothing but old wine in new skins? Actually “necessary” primarily only in order to keep up the world hegemony position respectively to regain it? This time on a green basis and above all directed against countries in the world which have been resisting the “Only World Power” and chose to follow their own independent path. It is a fact that today’s proponents of the “Green New Deal” are no critics of globalisation and its consequences, they merely speak of “another form” of globalization. Take as an example the European Greens. Their ‘thought leader’ Joschka Fischer had showed the way, shortly before building the red-green government in 1998, in his book “Für einen neuen Gesellschaftsvertrag. Eine politische Antwort auf die globale Revolution.” (For a newsocietal pact. A political response to global revolution). Maybe there is still another backgrounto the concept along the lines of ‘Deep Ecology’, for the proponents of which the billions of men are nothing but a nuisance factor, interfering with their planetarian visions, matching perfectly the “green” society and population policies, which would please the Rockefeller Foundation and their like-minded fellow travellers.5

Definitely capitalist

Be it as it may, it is interesting that the above-mentioned article from the “Handelsblatt” closes with the following observation: “Even in view of all this socialistic radicalism that has been ascribed to Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders, their Green New Deal chimes in much better with market economy’s compulsion to grow, than leftist and growth-critical representatives of the environment economy would be pleased about.”
In 2008, a so-called Green New Deal Group put forward their report “A Green New Deal” in the USA. The environmental organisation of the UN adopted the term, and Achim Steiner, the German-Brasilian chairman of the organization launched an initiative namend “Global Green New Deal” in October 2018. Steiner has been teaching at Oxford University since 2016. In 2008, US President Barack Obama announced a “Green New Deal” for the US in his administration program. And in 2009 the EU Greens campaigned for the election of the EU Parliament with an economy and infra structure program named “New Green Deal”.

2019 – One year “Green New Deal”

Ten years later – it is the year of Greta Thunberg and “Fridays for Future” – the year of the Green New Deal has arrived. Next to the Greens there is a group with the name “Democracy in Europe movement 2025” that has taken up the issue.
This is the group that has published the “Ten Pillars of the New Green Deal for Europe”. After the EU parliamentary elections this organisation started a campaign under the slogan “Green New Deal for Europe”, which is to cross the party lines and is to be open for all and every parties, initiatives and NGOs – under the condition they support the platform. Ursula von der Leyen – her new EU Commission has been in office since 1st December – adopted the idea und wants to realize the “European Green New Deal” as top-priority issue of her work. (See box below)
In February of this year the elder conservative statesman Pat Buchanan expressed his criticism of this “Green New Deal” and drew attention to the fact that it was not the “New Deal” of former US President Roosevelt that had been able to solve the economic and financial problems of the country.6 The “solution” actually was the massive arms build-up for the Second World War. The graduated historian and journalist Dirc Bavendamm who used to write for the German weekly “Die Zeit” and for the newspapers “Die Welt” and “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, pubished a book as early as 1993 with the interesting title “Roosevelts Krieg. Amerikanische Politik und Strategie 1937–1945” (Roosevelt’s War. American Policies and Strategy from 1937 to 1945). New Deal and Second World War – another question about historical contexts.

But who is supposed to foot the bill?

The economist Gabirel Züllig, by the way quite sympathetic with respect to the “Green New Deal”, pointed to the costs of the project in republic.ch.7 Edward Barbier, Professor for economy at the Colorado State University summed up the financial expenditure to one billion dollar – for the USA alone. The American Society of Civil Engineers speak of 4,5 billion for the “necessary” infra-structure projects. According to the American Action Forum the financial requirements were to amount to 5.7 billion dollar. Noah Smith from the agency Bloomberg calculated financial requirements of 17 billion dollar alone for the energy-efficient renovation of US American buildings. Züllig adds: “If you add up the health costs for all households which would have to finance the Green New Deal and additionally consider the income of all the unemployed, the project’s costs would rise to astronomical heights.”
The question remains unanswered, from where and from whom is all the money to come in view of the fact that one’s own country is so heavily indebted and there is an obvious lack of resources. One look at the history books and a little logical thinking will grant the quite alarming answer, – as well as an impulse to reflect, what might be planned – not only in the USA but in Europe as well. And it confronts us with the task not to leave the protection of our environment to some charlatans.               •

1    Robert Habeck said: “The time of Merkel is apparently ending and a new time begins. And the question is this: Who is going to set the course into these new times? Just at this point of time the Party Convention is going to be held and it must set a signal. We want to participate in setting the course. We bid for the responsibility to shape this new time. And I also think of this great phrase that Angela Merkel spoke at the very climax of the refugee crisis: A country where one has to apologize for one’s humane attitude, is not my country. With this sentence she gave the new generation a ‘Yes’, a voice and a word. Where is that spirit, capable of thinking the great themes in Germany? We must now set on a Green New Deal in these times. The Green New Deal is not only a great investment program, but it is an economic program that will end the war of economy against nature. That is why Green New Deal is necessary and the time is running out. We must now, in the present, act as forcefully as possible in order to open up the space of the future. Let us put our full focus on the present, let us invest into a climate-neutral infra-structure and manner of economizing. To make possible the future again. We are living in the best and freest republic, which has ever existed in Germany. Let us defend this republic, and let us provide for that it will not be turned into fascism. Let us become custodians of our constitution.” (https://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/news-im-video--gruenen-chef-robert-habeck-wirbt-fuer--green-new-deal--9004466.html)
2    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5cb636ea93a63267f424e168/t/5d0903bd8512260001ca9a1a/1560871871547/GNDE+-+Die+zehn+Sa%CC%88ulen+des+Green+New+Deals+fu%CC%88r+Europa+.pdf
3    https://www.morgenpost.de/wirtschaft/article227687711/Windkraft-Altmaier-verteidigt-Plaene-fuer-Mindestabstand.html (Altmeier defends plans for the minimum distance)
4    Friedman, Thomas L. “A Warning From The Garden”, in: “The New York Times” from 19 January 2007, https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/19/opinion/19friedman.html
5    compare article by Matthias Burchardt. “Neoliberal Climate Populism” on page 15ff of this edition
6    https://buchanan.org/blog/are-the-democrats-bent-on-suicide-136395, 12 February 2019
7    https://www.republik.ch/2019/07/02/wer-hat-den-gruensten-neuen-deal (Who has the greenest new deal?) from 2 July 2019

Ursula von der Leyen wants a “European Green Deal”

km. The former German Defence Minister and new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made the fight against climate change as a matter of priority of her work in the new office. Ms von der Leyen already demanded a “European Green Deal” as the first point on three pages in her extensive presentation to the EU Parliament in mid-July 2019 (“A Union that wants to achieve more. My Agenda for Europe”1), which can be certainly read as an EU programme for a “Green New Deal”.  She intends to submit details of her programme within the first 100 days of her term of office. She has announced that by 2030 she wants to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 to 55 percent compared with 1990 levels, and by 2050 the EU should be „climate neutral“, meaning that CO2 emissions should correspond to what nature can absorb and process. The Dutch Social Democrat Frans Timmermans is to be not only von der Leyens‘ deputy, but also the EU Commissioner responsible for the “European Green Deal“. The planned expenditure volume, of which the EU and the EU states will bear the major part, is enormous. Von der Leyen herself first speaks of 1 trillion euros in the years 2020–2030. The “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“ reported on 26 November 2019 that it had received a report from the EU Commission according to which 3 trillion euros of expenditure are planned, 300 billion each year from 2020–2030 – not least at the expense of previous EU expenditure on agriculture. Von der Leyen has so far denied that such plans exist.
Not only the SPD supports von der Leyen’s plan for a “European Green Deal”2 , the Greens have also signaled their approval. In a guest article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“ on 13 October 2019, the European policy spokeswoman of the Green parliamentary group and the chairman of the German Green Party, Robert Habeck, write that von der Leyen’s plan is „also a huge opportunity for Germany“, a plan that “reunites Europe“. Robert Habeck has also pleaded for the “New Green Deal“, and the movement “Democracy in Europe 2025“ (see article above) also sees von der Leyen’s plan in principle as positive, but still has a few concerns about the EU‘s existing structures.3
Concerns in the public space are hardly to be found. The newspaper “Die Welt“ reported on 20 November 2019 that the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ) had drafted a position paper criticising von der Leyen’s plans. The newspaper writes: ”The companies are warning against a climate policy that will cost Europe growth and prosperity”. Von der Leyen’s demands frightened “many companies. Already the existing reduction targets overtaxed many companies”. “In many industries, the reduction targets cannot be achieved with the existing technologies and processes,” is quoted literally from the position paper.

1    In German language: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/political-guidelines-next-commission_de.pdf of 16 July 2019
2    https://www.vorwaerts.de/artikel/european-green-deal-oekologischen-sozialen-wandel-gang-setzt of 8 November 2019
3    https://www.politico.eu/article/ursula-von-der-leyens-green-deal-is-doomed-climate-change-european-commission/ of 16 October 2019

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