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Workers, Look Out: Here Comes California’s Phony Green New Deal

By Ted Franklin - Let's Own Chevron, July 14, 2022

California politicians never tire of touting the state’s leadership on climate issues. But how much of it is bullshit, to borrow the Anglo-Saxon technical term recently popularized by former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr?

Some East Bay and SF DSAers got very interested when we learned that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was holding a one-day hearing on a 228-page draft plan for California’s transition to a green future. The 2022 Scoping Plan Update, to be adopted later this year, aims to be the state’s key reference document to guide legislators and administrations in remaking the California economy over the next two decades. We turned on our bullshit detectors and prepared for the worst. CARB did not disappoint.

The state is currently committed to two major climate goals: (1) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and (2) to achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2045. These are hardly adequate goals in the eyes of science-based climate activists, but California officialdom is taking them seriously, at least seriously enough to commission a state agency to map out a master plan to reach them.

And there’s the rub. Charged with the outsized responsibility of devising a roadmap to a Green California, CARB’s staff came up with a technocratic vision that caters to the powerful, seems designed to fail, and pays virtually no attention to workers whose world will be turned upside down by “rapid, far- reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” required to limit global overheating to 1.5ºC. Despite copious lip service to environmental justice, CARB’s draft also ignores the critiques and questions put forward by CARB’s own Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC), assembled to give CARB input and feedback as the state’s master plan takes shape.

“The state’s 20-year climate policy blueprint is a huge step backward for California,” commented Martha Dina Arguello, EJAC’s co-chair and executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “The plan on the table is grossly out of touch with the lived reality of communities that experience suffocating pollution and doubles down on fossil fuels at a time when California needs real climate solutions.” 

The idea that an air quality regulatory agency like CARB could come up with a viable plan for a societal transformation on the scale of the Industrial Revolution is absurd on its face. To do this without extensive involvement of labor would seem to doom the project entirely. Yet CARB plowed ahead without any significant input from labor. Result: the only union mentioned in CARB’s draft plan is the European Union.

We searched the draft plan in vain to see if it addressed any of the key questions from labor’s point of view:

What is the green future for California’s workers? How shall we provide for workers and communities that depend on the fossil fuel economy as major industries are phased out? What would a green economy look like, what are green jobs, how can we create enough good green jobs to meet demand, and what public investments will be required?

Instead of answering questions like these, CARB’s draft plan promotes a bevy of false solutions to reach California’s already inadequate targets. CARB’s depends on the state’s problematic cap-and-trade carbon trading scheme as well as carbon capture and storage (the favored scam of the oil industry) and hydrogen (the favored scam of the gas industry). The draft gives the nod to 33 new large or 100 new peaker gas-fired power plants. Missing: cutting petroleum refining, oil extraction, and fracking; banning new fossil fuel infrastructure; degrowing military and police budgets; and committing more resources to education, mass transit, healthcare, and housing. Instead of proposing an economy of care and repair to replace the old fossil fuel economy, CARB offers electric cars and more pipelines.

Far from providing a roadmap to a green future, CARB has come up with California capitalism’s most ambitious response yet to the radical ecosocialist Green New Deal that the world needs and we are fighting for.

Ecuadorian Indigenous Movement Secures Economic and Climate Justice Victories, Ending National Strike

By Sofía Jarrín Hidalgo - Global Ecosocialist Network, July 5, 2022

Reprinted from Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres courtesy of Marc Bonhomme.

On June 13, 2022, a National Strike was launched by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the National Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous, and Black Organizations (FENOCIN), the Council of Indigenous Evangelical Peoples and Organizations (FEINE), alongside social and environmental organizations aligned with the Indigenous Movement.

Although many minimized the mobilizations to be solely about the rising cost of fuel, the protests kept their momentum due to the rising cost of living, which was one of the root causes of the movement. The people of Ecuador have faced immense poverty and unemployment for many months. For 18 days, the national protest sought to generate government action to address the deep systemic crisis that Ecuador is going through, marked by the lack of economic, political, and cultural rights. Today, the Indigenous movement was victorious in securing commitments from the president to address their economic and environmental reality.

In their demands, Indigenous communities sought the implementation of policies to protect the planet and secure a just and ecological transition. One of their key requests was the repeal of Decrees 95 and 151, which were intended to advance extractivism in Amazonian Indigenous territories. In August 2021, the Confederation of Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador (CONFENIAE) had already spoken out against implementing these decrees; however, President Lasso decided not to heed this call. Among their main arguments was that the government failed to guarantee protection and respect for their right to free, prior, and informed consultation, much less the internationally respected standards of consent.

Earlier this week, Indigenous leaders and the government entered into dialogue and negotiations. They have since reached a signed agreement including an end to the National Strike and the “state of emergency” declared by the government. There will be a repeal of Executive Decree 95 promoting oil and gas expansion and a reform of Executive Decree 151 affecting the mining sector. Both decrees authorized the government to expand the extractive frontier into Indigenous territories and important conservation and forest areas. The reform of the mining decree is particularly notable because it states that activities cannot happen in protected areas or Indigenous territories, in designated “no-go” zones, archaeological zones, or water protection areas in accordance with the law, and it guarantees the right to free, prior, and informed consultation (not consent) as set forth in the standards dictated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Ecuador’s highest court. Fuel prices will also be reduced to a fixed rate, an economic justice victory acknowledging the cost of living crisis. They will use the next 90 days to address the remaining demands through a technical working committee.

The agreements and future discussions are rooted in the Indigenous movement’s ten points. Their agenda aims to generate solutions to combat the sustained deterioration of living conditions, the crisis in the education and health system, the high costs of food and essential services, the expansion of the extractive frontier, and the violation of the collective rights of Indigenous peoples, among other demands.

Workers and Communities in Transition: Virtual Discussion on the Just Transition Listening Project

By J. Mijin Cha, Vivian Price, Dimitris Stevis, and Todd E. Vachon - Labor Network for Sustainability, May 3, 2022

The Center for Global Work and Employment, Labor Education Action Research Network (LEARN) and Center for Environmental Justice at Colorado State University have recently sponsored a virtual discussion on the Just Transition Listening Project (JTLP)’s 2021 report Workers and Communities in Transition. You can watch the recording online on LEARN-TV.

Renewable Energy Materials: Supply Chain Justice

By staff - The Climate and Community Project, April 6, 2022

Sourcing materials for renewable energy, such as lithium for lithium-ion batteries, can create its own environmental justice problems. Check out this brief report from the Climate and Community Project.

The report addresses President Biden’s recent order invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up domestic mining for “clean energy technologies,” particularly for lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles and other renewable technologies.

The report points out that “mining is one of the most environmentally harmful industries, with multinational mining companies and their governmental allies subjecting communities to rights violations and outright violence.”

It outlines four policies needed to make sure the new push for renewable energy materials is just and sustainable:

  1. Reform the 1872 General Mining Law to recognize Free,
    Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous peoples. . . and amend to include environmental protections,
  2. Rapidly build out critical mineral recycling infrastructure.
  3. Invest in Independent and Publicly Funded Research and Development (R&D).
  4. Fund a Green New Deal for Transportation,

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

#8M2022: Strong Mobilization of Peasant Women Worldwide

By staff - La Via Campesina, March 31, 2022

Through acts of denunciation, activism, education and rebellion, the women of La Via Campesina and around the world commemorated International Working Women’s Day on March 8, 2022. With the motto: Sowing Food Sovereignty and Solidarity, We Harvest Rights and a Dignified life! hundreds of decentralized actions were carried out in the territories.

Outstanding symbolic actions were carried out by organizations in countries such as Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Honduras, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India, where rural and city women mobilized and denounced exploitation and oppression under capitalist patriarchy.

Here is a short update:

#8M2022: Women peasants in India: one year of intense struggles

By Bianca Pessoa and Chukki Nanjundaswamy - La Via Campesina, March 20, 2022

Since November 2020, Indians peasants struggle for their rights that are in constant danger of being withdraw by the far-right, authoritarian government ruled by the prime-minister Narendra Modi. The country is struggling against Modi’s agenda in partnership with transnational companies that put in risk the lives of many farmers in the country especially women. In India, 80% of the food that are produced, is produced by women. They are the majority working on the fields and plantations, even when they’re not officially considered farmers, and the ones that suffer the most with the lack of policies.

Chukki Nanjundaswamy have been part of the farmers movement from her youth. She’s one of the coordinators of an agroecology school, based in the southern part of India, in Karnataka, and worked as a member of the International Coordinating Committee of La Via Campesina. During this interview, Chukki talked about this last year of intense struggles in the country, their mobilization for the minimum support price and against the privatization of the markets, the violence suffered by women farmers and the events of this last year of protests. To understand more about the women struggles in India, read the other contents from Capire here.

Climate Solutions from the Frontlines of Environmental Justice

(Video) A Climate Jobs Plan for Rhode Island

By various - ILR Worker Institute - March 4, 2022

On Friday, March 4, researchers from Cornell University joined with leaders of the Climate Jobs RI coalition, a group of labor, climate, and community groups in Rhode Island, and discussed a new report unveiled last month that outlined a comprehensive action plan to put RI on the path to becoming the first fully decarbonized state and building an equitable, pro-worker, clean energy economy.

Watch the panel here:

Spirituality is key to building solidarity: An interview with La Via Campesina’s Nettie Wiebe

By Priscilla Claeys, Jasber Singh, and Nettie Wiebe - Agroecology Now, March 1, 2022

Nettie Wiebe, you are one of the women leaders of La Via Campesina (LVC), a transnational peasant movement that defends food sovereignty and unites over 200 million small-scale farmers, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples working the land. Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got involved in LVC?

I have farmed all my life. I may have missed a few harvests when I was abroad studying, but otherwise I am committed to, and deeply rooted in, farming. That’s been my life along with academia. I have a PhD in philosophy and in ethics. I have always, in my mind, in my life, made the link between how we live, what we eat and how we think about ourselves. I see it as one package. My intellectual life is not separated from my lived, practical life. I’ve always integrated those two. People sometimes have asked me, what do you need a philosophy degree for? That seems so impractical. And I say no, it’s in fact very practical. I have lots of time to think when I’m driving around and around on fields, but more importantly, our ethical and our intellectual or academic lives need to be embedded in our practical lives. I don’t think we will make any progress on the serious climate and ecological issues unless we think collectively and individually about our positioning here. It’s not just an economic issue, it’s an ethical one.

I have been involved in La Via Campesina for many years. We are small scale farmers here in Saskatchewan (Canada) and when we started farming on our own, we immediately became members of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU, a LVC member organization). Because I am a woman and, because of how academia was then, and maybe still is, in terms of the role of women, I failed to get a permanent position teaching at the University of Saskatchewan. I then stepped away from the University and decided to use my qualifications in the movement, where my heart really was. I became active in the National Farmers’ Union and became the women’s president, for six years and then for the first time in the history of the NFU, actually in the history of any national farm organization in Canada, they elected a woman as their president. So I was the president of the NFU. This was the late 1980s, and the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiations were going on. At the NFU, we had already been resisting the US-Canada free trade agreements, which set the parameters for the neoliberal globalization of agriculture. So we had that experience here in Canada, and we knew this corporatization of agriculture was going to be devastating for small-scale farming. In 1993, we sent a delegate to Mons, Belgium where La Via Campesina was created, and we played a major role in organizing the second International Conference of La Via Campesina in Tlaxcala, Mexico in 1996. We already had good relations with peasant groups in the Central American region.

Fossil Fuel Phaseout–From Below

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 2022

Protecting the climate requires rapidly reducing the extraction of fossil fuels. That’s a crucial part of the Green New Deal. While the federal government has done little so far to reduce fossil fuel production, people and governments all over the country are taking steps on their own to cut down the extraction of coal, oil, and gas.

Introduction

The U.S. needs to cut around 60% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 to reach zero net emissions by 2050.[1] The world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2022 and 2030 to reach the Paris goal of 1.5°C. Countries are instead planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2%, which by 2030 will result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit.[2]

In the previous two commentaries in this series we have shown how initiatives from cities, states, and civil society organizations are expanding climate-safe energy production and reducing energy use through energy efficiency and conservation. These are essential aspects of reducing climate-destroying greenhouse gas emissions, but in themselves they will not halt the burning of fossil fuels. That requires action on the “supply side” – freezing new fossil fuel infrastructure and accelerating the closing of existing production facilities. That is often referred to as a “phaseout” or “managed decline” of fossil fuels.

Such a phaseout of fossil fuel production is necessary to meet the goals of the Green New Deal and President Joe Biden’s climate proposals. The original 2018 Green New Deal resolution submitted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a national 10-year mobilization to achieve 100% of national power generation from renewable sources. Biden’s Build Back Better plan sought 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035 and net zero GHG emissions by 2050. These goals cannot be met without reducing the amount of fossil fuel that is actually extracted from the earth.[3]

While the US government and corporations are failing to effectively reduce the mining and drilling of fossil fuels, hundreds of efforts at a sub-national level are already cutting their extraction. 50 US cities are already powered entirely by clean and renewable sources of energy. 180 US cities are committed to 100% clean energy.[4] According to a report by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Oil Change International, Indigenous resistance has stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one-quarter of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions.[5] Such reductions are an essential part of a widespread but little-recognized movement we have dubbed the “Green New Deal from Below.”[6]

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