building a Green New Deal for Australia

// Who are we?

Climate Justice Collective is a national grassroots organising network demanding a radical, progressive Green New Deal for Australia - one that foregrounds racial, economic, environmental and social justice.

We currently have active chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. If you'd like to get involved (or start a chapter in your home town), sign up as a volunteer here

// What is the Green New Deal?

Our Green New Deal is a plan to decolonise Australia, decarbonise our economy, decommodify life and democratise our society. That means everyone has access to meaningful work or a basic income, cheap and sustainable public transport, cheap and sustainable energy, a guaranteed home, lifelong education and care, and quality public services. There will likely be many different visions of what a Green New Deal can and should be, and ours is designed to push the limits of what is considered politically possible.

The Green New Deal resolution tabled in the United States Senate by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has provided a timely and inspired vision for climate movements around the world, but we need to go further than a plan for Keynesian-style public investment.

The Climate Justice Collective demands a Green New Deal that entails a complete transformation of our economy and society. One that radically alters what we produce, how and why we produce it, how we organise and value social reproduction, and how we relate to one another and the rest of nature. We cannot achieve this transformation without a direct challenge to capitalism.

// What are our principles?

Climate Justice – We must assess and understand competing responses to climate change through the lens of climate justice, so that we can easily identify false solutions. Climate justice requires that both the processes and outcomes of climate change adaptation and mitigation improve the material living conditions of frontline communities, including First Nations people, and low-income and working class people. It is an acknowledgement of historical social and ecological injustices, and a commitment to ensure they are addressed through our response to climate change. We can achieve climate justice by building a just transition that advances racial, economic, ecological and social justice.

Decolonisation – Decolonisation "brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life" (Yang & Tuck, 2012). The terms and processes of decolonisation in Australia are to be determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are abundant writings on what decolonisation means in Australia, including the Aboriginal Sovereign Manifesto of Demands.

Decarbonisation – Decarbonisation is the elimination of all greenhouse gas emissions within a strict time frame, and the transformation of our society from an extractive economy whose purpose is the enclosure of land, the transfer of wealth from the many to the few, and the accumulation of power, to a regenerative economy whose purpose is to provide a good life for all humans and other animals.

Decommodification – We need to decommodify survival to ensure that everyone has what they need to live a good life. That means unconditional access to a living wage or income, sustainable housing and transport, healthy food and clean water, lifelong education and care, quality social services including comprehensive healthcare, and energy democracy.

Democratisation – Establish public and social ownership of all life-supporting systems including energy, food and water systems, transport, housing, education and healthcare.

International solidarity – Justice at a global scale means Australia must acknowledge its outsized role in producing climate change, and offer safe haven to climate refugees by encouraging freedom of movement in our region and beyond. This can start by ending punitive offshore border processing regimes, and legislating a responsibility to climate refugees. We should develop an open borders policy that encourages the free movement of people to and from Australia.

Against ecofascism – We must actively fight ecofascist narratives and policies that seek to falsely attribute blame for the climate crises to vulnerable communities, namely refugees and migrants, First Nations people and communities of colour. We should recognise the long history of environmentalism and conservation movements as resting on settler colonial narratives and bourgeois understandings of nature and society, and reject racist, sexist appeals to population control/monitoring, border militarisation, and land grabbing for market-based carbon mitigation schemes.

Anti-capitalism - The climate crisis is only the ecological expression of a much deeper and older crisis of value. Since the beginnings of capitalism, our lives have been governed by the market. The imperative to make greater and greater profits eclipses the right to life and survival for people and other animals, and has been the driving force of imperialism and colonialism. Living this way is neither inevitable or natural, but serves only to enrich a handful of people, who continuously undermine our supposedly democratic governments, in order to maintain their power. Any Green New Deal that seeks to avoid catastrophic climate change must reckon with this unjust system of production and reproduction.

// How do we pay for it?

We can’t afford not to. Left unattended, the impacts of climate change will lead to the displacement of millions of people and destruction of our cities, towns, land, air and waterways.

Fix the tax system – We must demand that corporations pay their fair share of tax, and crack down on their tax avoidance.

Stop corporate handouts – We must stop giving handouts and subsidies to polluters.

Build a public bank – A Public Bank can prioritise the investments we need to tackle climate change, and wouldn’t require enormous profits to fund bloated CEO pay packages.

Divest our super funds – Redirect our superannuation away from fossil fuels and unethical investments and towards the infrastructure, housing and social services all Australians deserve.

Scrap the debt ceiling – Our debt levels and inflation are low by historical and international standards. We can afford to publicly fund this transition, we just have to choose to prioritise our vision of the future.

Invest in people – Putting more money in the pockets of securely employed workers, reducing bills and providing efficient and sustainable transport, energy, infrastructure and services will boost our economy, and can happen without damaging our environment.

// Do you want to know more?

We have a consultation draft of our full, detailed vision for a Green New Deal for Australia available here. Please feel free to read, provide feedback and add any ideas.