The Council of Canadians has joined a broad coalition of groups across the country that are supporting and building momentum for a Green New Deal in Canada.
What is a Green New Deal?
A Green New Deal is a transformational project that recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and the scale of what’s necessary to tackle it.
The world’s scientists and Indigenous peoples are telling us that we have to change course – and we need to do it quickly. We have to cut our global greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2030 if we are going to have a livable planet in the future.
A Green New Deal for all will ensure that transformation is carried out equitably, that it is rooted in climate justice, that it respects the rights of Indigenous peoples, and that it creates over a million jobs in the process.
At the Council of Canadians, we want a Green New Deal that:
- Prioritizes good jobs, public services, and workers’ rights, including support for just transition initiatives that expand local and national public transit, cycling, and pedestrian infrastructure, affordable housing, public health care, trade and water justice, and postal service transformation. A “just transition” is an approach to policymaking developed by the labour movement that aims to minimize the impacts on affected workers as we transition to a fossil fuel-free future.
- Centres on Indigenous self-determination, including the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Calls to Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and respecting Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
- Ensures social justice, equity, and human rights are a central part of climate action.
- Opposes hate, including racism, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and the rise of the far right, while supporting migrant and refugee rights.
- Defends and expands democracy by directly challenging the influence of corporations and the wealthy, corporate capture, and false market solutions that are preventing climate action.
- Increases taxes on billionaires and corporations to pay for the just transition we need.
Where did the idea for a Green New Deal come from?
Members of Parliament in the UK have been meeting since 2007 to build a Green New Deal. There’s a growing movement for a European Green New Deal and the 2019 elections in Spain were won by the Spanish Socialist Party, which ran on a Green New Deal Platform. In the U.S., there has been a recent surge in movement organizing and support for a Green New Deal. Recently, some international organizers have begun calling for a global Green New Deal. And there’s growing momentum for a Green New Deal here too. In Canada, polling indicates that 61% of people support a Green New Deal – and that number jumps to 66% if it’s paid for by increasing taxes on “corporations and the wealthy.” In other words, the majority of Canadians recognize that we can tackle the climate crisis with a Green New Deal and pay for it by tackling inequality at the same time.
How you can get involved
The Council of Canadians recently launched a campaign for “Green New Deal Communities.” A Green New Deal Community is one that ensures the transition we need leaves no one behind and builds a better present and future for all of us by adopting policies that include:
- Addressing science and Indigenous knowledge by implementing a plan to reduce municipal emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
- Reducing inequality by using available municipal revenue generation tools while requesting additional tools from other levels of government, which will also help pay for a local Green New Deal.
- Actively supporting the expansion of good, unionized, low carbon jobs and public services to build a greener local economy.
- Respecting Indigenous rights and treaties.
- Ensuring accessible, affordable, and safe housing, free transit, and food security.
- Reducing corporate influence on local decision-making, particularly by developers, to enhance local democracy and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts, as well as opposing privatization.
- Upholding equity, anti-racism and migrant justice in municipal policies.
- Rejecting new fossil fuel infrastructure and committing to expanding local installation of renewable energy sources.
To build the necessary political pressure for federal parties and the federal government to implement a Green New Deal, we need to build as much momentum as possible everywhere we can.
Making your community a Green New Deal Community is a way of both moving ahead on a Green New Deal locally without waiting for action from the federal government, while also applying upward pressure to make a federal Green New Deal more likely. Every community that adopts a plan and passes a resolution supporting a local Green New Deal tips the scales toward federal, provincial, and territorial governments doing the same.
In addition to the need for grassroots pressure on provincial and federal governments, adopting a Green New Deal locally will put your community ahead of the curve in defining its unique needs and priorities in the just transition ahead.
Municipalities directly own and operate, as well as oversee the development and maintenance of the majority of local infrastructure and public services, including electricity, transportation (public transit, cycling, and pedestrian infrastructure), affordable housing and buildings, child care, education, drinking water and wastewater, arts and entertainment, living wages, cultural and recreational centres, snow and waste management, accessibility, food security, public spaces, and health and social services. Despite the growing need for reinvestment, Canadian municipalities are chronically underfunded.
Municipalities can also play a key role in rejecting new fossil fuel infrastructure in their jurisdictions.
Becoming a Green New Deal Community is also the next natural step for communities that have declared a climate emergency, which hundreds of municipalities from coast-to-coast- to-coast and around the world have now done. Now that the recognition of the urgency of the climate crisis is widespread, it’s time to take the next step with a Green New Deal.