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The Green New Deal: Whither Capitalism

Güney Işikara and Ying Chen

The fact that the living standard of wage labourers has been delinked from GDP growth has an important implication: their well-being can be substantially increased under circumstances of a constant, or even shrinking GDP. We need not be concerned with maintaining or boosting GDP growth while discussing climate action. On the contrary, revealing and emphasizing the lack of connection between growth and well-being is more fruitful insofar as it demystifies the content of capitalist accumulation.

Obviously, this implies the adoption of a clear class position instead of sticking with green growth, presented as the only politically viable response. Yet the credo of what seems to be politically viable is what brought us here. In addition, not only concerns about well-being, but also the distribution of emissions points to the necessity of a class-based approach: annual per-capita CO2 emissions of the richest 10% is around 5 times greater than that of the poorest 10% in the USA. The extreme inequality of carbon footprint within and across countries is not primarily a problem of morality and justice, but a political question regarding the use of environmental commons, and as such, a question of ownership.