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Analysis shows how the Greens have changed the language of economic debate in New Zealand

When Health Minister Chris Hipkins recently quipped that the Green Party is “to some extent the conscience of the Labour Party” he was not simply referring to polls suggesting Labour may need the Greens’ support to form a government.

Hipkins was also suggesting Green policies help keep Labour honest on environmental and social issues. So, what difference has the Green Party really made to New Zealand’s political debate?

Drawing on a study of 57 million words spoken in parliament between 2003 and 2016, our analysis shows the presence of a Green party has changed the political conversation on economics and environment.

In the recent Newshub leaders’ debate, both Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins agreed that “growing the economy” was the best way to respond to the economic crisis driven by COVID-19.

Their responses varied only on traditional left-right lines. Ardern argued that raising incomes and investing in training would grow the economy. Collins suggested economic growth should be advanced by increasing consumer spending through temporary tax cuts.

By contrast, Green parties in New Zealand and elsewhere have long questioned the impact of relentless growth on the natural resources of a finite planet. Green thinking is informed by ecological economics, which aims to achieve more sustainable forms of collective prosperity that meet social needs within the planet’s limits.

man and woman shaking hands
‘Labour’s conscience’: Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw sign the confidence and supply agreement that brought the Greens into coalition in 2017. GettyImages

The language of economic growth

The impact of this radically different view can be observed in New Zealand parliamentary debates. When MPs from National and Labour used the word “economy” they commonly talked about it in the context of “growth” (“grow”/“growing”/“growth”).

On average, National MPs said “growth” once every four mentions of “economy”. Labour MPs said “growth” once every six mentions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dammed Good Question about the Green New Deal

Dammed Good Question about the Green New Deal

Hydroelectric power from dams might be the thorniest question that proponents of the Green New Deal (GND) have to grapple with. Providing more energy than solar and wind combined, dams could well become the backup for energy if it proves impossible to get off of fossil fuels fast enough. 

An August 2019 forum on the GND included representatives from the Sunrise Movement, Renew Missouri and three of us in the Green Party. Rev. Elston McCowan asked, “What does the Green New Deal say about rivers and dams?” I said “That’s a dammed good question” and went into some of the issues below. Howie Hawkins and Dario Hunter, both candidates for the Green Party presidential nomination, told of their participation in local efforts to block dam construction. But trying to defeat a single dam begs the question of what policy a political organization has toward them. [1]

GND proposals from the Democratic Party, like those of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, ignore both nuclear power and dams. Yet dams have ominous implications for the world’s rivers. 

Rivers and lakes are an integral part of human existence, with virtually all major inland cities being located next to one of them. They provide water for drinking, bathing, food, and medicine. Their sustenance is not just for humans but for untold numbers of tiny organisms, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. Rivers integrate plant and animal life forms and connect human communities to each other. 

As capitalism grew, rivers transported huge quantities of lumber from clear cuts, oil from under the ground and coal ripped from mountains. Rivers have been used for trash disposal, as if carrying it somewhere else would make it vanish.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canadian industry is ‘addicted to fossil fuels,’ but the Green Party can change that, says Elizabeth May

Canadian industry is ‘addicted to fossil fuels,’ but the Green Party can change that, says Elizabeth May

Goal isn’t to come up with something politically palatable, it’s to secure future: May

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May joins climate change activists and students as they gather in Calgary for a protest and ‘die-in,’ on the steps of the Calgary Municipal Building in Calgary on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says Canadians want action on climate change, but are stymied by living in a society “hardwired to fossil fuel use.”

“It’s very hard for an individual to take action in a system that’s still subsidising fossil fuels, that’s still promoting the idea that we can expand the oil sands,” May told The Current’s interim host Laura Lynch.

She said that what’s needed is leadership and programs that help and encourage people to make sustainable choices, such as putting solar panels on their roofs, or plugging in their cars rather than stopping at the gas station.

“These are really good choices for the future, but almost impossible for the individual to do … against a structure in society that says we’re addicted to fossil fuels, and we think that’s just fine,” she said.

“It’s not fine. We have to stop doing it.”

On Wednesday, May told CBC News she wouldn’t prop up a minority government that moves forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

If the Green Party wins enough seats, May said they could hold “the balance of responsibility” to tell the bigger parties “we won’t let you get past the very first confidence vote, unless we see absolute evidence, a change in our target, a commitment to real action.”

She stressed that her party is more interested in securing a sustainable future for the planet than advancing its own political power.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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