Thursday, July 29, 2021

3537. A Green Critique of the Global Alliance for a Green New Deal

 By Sandy Irvine,  Sandy Irvine's Green Blog, July 20, 2021

This paper argues that we might be wise to hold the applause for the Global Alliance for a Green New Deal (GAGND). It seems to be another case of ‘cakeism’, the belief that we can have our cake and eat it: a long list of In reality, the available material on the GAGND suggests a severe case of pie-in-the sky thinking. Indeed, it offers comfort food for those reluctant and even unwilling to face the breadth and depth of the challenges we face.Indeed, it offers comfort food for those reluctant and even unwilling to face the breadth and depth of the challenges we face. (

There are, of course, many definitions of a ‘Green New Deal’ and associated policies (eg ). All seem to be variants of some kind of turquoise Keynesianism, replete with woefully exaggerated hopes regarding what can be sustainably delivered by renewable energy, battery storage technology, efficiency gains and recycling. Some are based on pure mythology, not least the thermodynamically impossible 100% “circular economy”. Indeed, there seems to be a hidden assumption of the possibility for radical ‘dematerialisation’ and ‘absolute decoupling’ for which there is simply no evidence. It also appears that there is a conflation with electricity supply with total energy consumption, thereby skirting real barriers in fields such as agriculture and transportation (cf )

It might be remembered that the original New Deal did not deal with the problems it claimed to address. The then unemployment crisis in the USA persisted at a high level until the rearmament programme kicked in. It also inflicted severe ecological damage (dams etc) alongside, to be fair, some beneficial programmes of soil conservation and tree planting. Today, President Joe Biden’s New Deal is essentially an infrastructure construction package, one that will do immense ecological damage, both in terms of further encroachment on wildlife habitat and farmland as well as all the concrete and steel it will devour
(see: and

It might also be remembered that Biden’s action on, say, pipeline construction has largely been in the form of temporary halts, not radical change of direction. Indeed the ‘Financial Times’ deemed his plans to be a “boost” to the fossil fuel industry. They also include the false fix of carbon capture and storage (cf

Similarly, the underpinning analysis on the GAGND website reduces the total crisis to one largely of excess carbon emissions (cf ). It largely ignores other GHGs, not least methane. In reality, global overheating is only one of many symptoms of ‘overshoot’. There are so many more: plastification (with current plans for massive expansion of plastic production), a lethal cocktail of air and water pollution, widespread and worsening toxic contamination, oceanic dead zones, soil denutrification and erosion, spreading crop and forest monocultures, aquifer depletion, massive overfishing, destruction of ocean beds, paving over of land by suburban sprawl and other construction ……

The website does talk of a “climate and nature crisis” but there is little sense of an appropriate ‘new deal’ for the rest of nature. The drastic decline in the richness and variety of non-human nature scarcely gets the prominence it deserves. Furthermore, the explicit linkage of “climate and nature” suggests that that global overheating and biodiversity meltdown go hand in hand. In reality there are far bigger drivers of extinction and endangerment (see diagram below), ones intimately linked to human numbers, not least the number of mouths to feed and people to house.{see: and )

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