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Savage climate plan: the Demilitarized Green New Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday September 21, 2020

For more info: Sam Pfeifle, 207-749-0298, sam@lisaformaine.org

Today Lisa Savage, the independent Green candidate in Maine's ranked-choice voting US Senate race, released her Demilitarized Green New Deal climate plan with the following statement:

It’s no exaggeration to describe our current climate crisis as an existential threat. Global heating represents a threat to the very existence of the human species as Earth becomes less habitable with each passing day. Already, we are seeing the emergence of climate refugees, displaced from their homes by the millions due to drought, wildfires, flooding, worsening storms and natural disasters, and extreme heat. Responding to this crisis is a moral imperative. The human costs of failing to meet this challenge will be massive, both here in the United States and around the world. 

The Demilitarized Green New Deal fundamentally responds in two ways:

  • Reducing production of greenhouse gases
  • Creation of millions of good union jobs that will be needed to transition to a sustainable society

Last year, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that global carbon emissions will have to fall by 45% by 2030 in order to avoid a global temperature rise of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Already, the world is behind on meeting its goals. And those goals don’t even include greenhouse gases like methane, which also have a serious impact on global heating. 

We must commit now to being emissions neutral, as a country, by 2030, if we have any hope of staving off the worst effects of climate change. The Paris agreement, even if it were being followed, is not enough. The U.S. must lead in creating a new global treaty that incentivizes green energy, transportation, industry, agriculture, and infrastructure and sets science-based targets for reducing the emissions that fuel global heating.

Here in the United States, we must commit to:

  • Incentivizing the creation of on- and offshore wind farming, localized solar farming, and other emerging green energy techniques such as tidal power; and investment in smart grid technology.
  • Investment in public transportation, including light rail, high-speed interstate rail, ferry, and green buses to reduce car-based travel.
  • Investment in public utilities, including purchasing controlling interest in currently private utilities to bring them under local democratic control. 
  • Banning the use of fracking and other destructive fossil fuel extraction techniques like tar sand mining, offshore drilling, mountaintop removal, and coal mining; ending construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines and storage facilities; and beginning the immediate phase out of fossil fuel extraction and use. 
  • Incentivizing the use of efficient heating and cooling sources, such as heat pumps and geothermal technology.
  • Expansion of local, state, and federal land preservation efforts, through parks, wildlife preserves, and other conservation efforts.
  • Investment in battery research and other energy storage techniques. 
  • Investment in climate-focused educational resources that can be worked into k-12 curriculum.
  • Investment in regenerative agriculture, to fix our poisonous agribusiness model and return sustainability to our food production. 
  • Investment in climate research at our state universities, looking into methodologies like carbon mineralization, new fibers and materials that are not petroleum based, and sustainable installation manufacture. 
  • Investment in public housing to make city living affordable, incentivizing local commerce and reductions in travel for basic necessities like groceries and social services, and establishing pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly communities. 

These Green New Deal investments mean many, many good-paying jobs. Current estimates say an investment of $100,000 equals one job in the clean energy sector. A government investment of this size, as part of the Demilitarized Green New Deal will be on the order of $1.4 trillion annually (see Howie Hawkins and Jon Rynn’s Ecosocialist Green New Deal Budget for further calculations), resulting in as many as 7,500,000 jobs across the United States, after accounting for one-time investments in things like making utilities public and buying out inefficient heating systems are paid for. 

For those wondering how the United States will pay for such investments, the answer largely comes from two areas: reduction of the military budget and increase in taxes on large corporations and extremely high earners. 

The military budget is currently $730 billion. Cutting that by 50% gains us more than a fifth of the cost of the Demilitarized Green New Deal. As a bonus, we’d see significant reduction in the carbon footprint of the largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. 

Further, we can pay for a Demilitarized Green New Deal simply by restoring the original New Deal principle of progressive taxation where the wealthy pay their fair share:

  • Elimination of corporate welfare, including subsidies for fossil fuels: $500b/year.
  • 2% tax on wealth over $50 million (the Warren plan): $250b/year.
  • Passage of the Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act of 2009: $250b/year.
  • Reform of corporate income tax to 1950s levels: $250b/year.

Just these reforms alone would provide the necessary funding for the Demilitarized Green New Deal’s proposed annual investments. Even better, they would spur a huge surge in good jobs in the manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and transportation sectors, where people can earn good livings in sustainable union jobs while contributing to the most important effort of our times. We have seen that tech-sector jobs -- and the gig economy -- result largely in a rush of income to billionaires and urban locations. These Demilitarized Green New Deal jobs would be nationally distributed and help to build communities outside the few urban centers where tech hubs have established themselves.

With 7,500,000 jobs created via a budget-neutral program that would stave off an existential threat to our country and the world, the Demilitarized Green New Deal isn’t some kind of “green dream.” It is the practical necessity of our historical moment.

Find information about Lisa Savage, her policy positions, background, and how to support her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org.

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