Road to a Green New Deal - Issue 25
May 5, 2022
Annie Wolfond

Making a Green New Deal Actionable: Campaign Lessons from Sunrise Movement

In a recent webinar, Dyanna Jaye, a co-founder of Sunrise Movement, outlines the process of envisioning, strategizing, and launching Sunrise’s campaign for a Green New Deal. One of the biggest takeaways from the presentation was the beneficial use of a symbolic demand, or a broad expression of values to help create unity across the  movement, supported by more specific, incremental goals geared towards achieving this overarching vision. For example, during the 2020 primary election, the symbolic demand was the Green New Deal and the incremental goal was to elect Green New Deal champions to office and push all candidates to pledge ambitious climate policies. With a clear target and the deadline of the elections, Sunrise Movement was able to organize specific actions that advanced the vision of a Green New Deal. Dyanna shared the use of GND-aligned campaigns with clear deadlines helped Sunrise to reinvigorate momentum which has sustained engagement in pursuit of their long term endeavor of pushing for a federal Green New Deal. To bring these campaign lessons together, Dyanna expressed the importance of strong brand presence which has unified the separate GND campaigns through visuals online and in social media. If you are interested in learning more about Sunrise Movement’s approach, the organization has a two-part (1, 2) article series explaining their methods in greater detail. 

Taking Charge of Good Governance 

Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG) are a community of lawyers, law students, and activists who work together on pro-bono programs and issue advocacy efforts for racial justice, immigration right, COVID-19 small business assistance, and climate change. They are committed to protecting and strengthening democracy, and operate by the following principles: equality, citizen participation, free and fair elections, protection of human rights and the environment, accountability to the people, control of abuse of power, and rule of law and due process. 

L4GG has established two initiatives that encourage climate action at the state and local level. Their Clean Energy Program is working toward meeting the renewable energy goals of the Paris Agreement. As part of this program, L4GG has developed state policy resources and model policies to assist cities in reaching 100 percent renewable energy. To date, L4GG has supported 13 states and over 60 cities in understanding the legal framework of an energy transition. 

Their Climate Justice Program was established in 2020 “to hold the government accountable to its promise to take environmental justice seriously.” L4GG collaborates directly with grassroots organizations to uplift community-based efforts. For example, L4GG has assisted Michigan communities in establishing a right to water. In addition, L4GG is offering direct training to local governments on tools such as Virtual Power Purchasing Agreements (VPAs), Community Choice Aggregation, and Franchise Agreements. Through these continued efforts, L4GG is building local power and climate action momentum, regardless of federal climate (in)action. 

What Should an International Green New Deal Look Like?

The climate crisis falls at the intersection of environmental, social, economic, and political turmoil. It is therefore critical we employ a multifaceted approach to addressing not only the symptoms of the climate crisis, but the root causes as well. The University of Pennsylvania's McHarg Center recently launched Field Notes Toward an Internationalist Green New Deal, intended to “foreground the spatial and material consequences” of climate action. For instance, critics of the Green New Deal energy transition in the U.S. have often raised concerns about how this transition will reverberate abroad. A shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy will require a greater quantity of rare Earth minerals which will heighten infrastructural demands and effect international labor rights, particularly in China (responsible for 80% of imports). The intention of this transition should not be to reproduce the same exploitative systems but transform them into equitable standards at every nexus. 

As we move forward with a vision of equity, how do we ensure global climate justice is at the heart of a Green New Deal transition? Field Notes provides a base blueprint to begin conceptualizing and bridging the ideology of a Green New Deal with the infrastructural necessities this global metamorphosis will require. The project elaborates on various topics (i.e., rare Earth elements, supply chains, global agriculture, international development, political regimes), detailing the repercussions of capitalistic world domination and avenues for transformative mobilization.

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