During this last week in Northern California I had the chance to check the pulse not only of the civil society groups but also of the political scene in the US and the most relevant thing I found is how the green movement is really kicking-off with a strong political agenda, very often linking green demands with social justice.
In Europe very often we dissociate green politics from social justice because this allows everybody to be green and trendy –even Barroso from the wheel of his SUV promotes green economy-. This is interesting. The ecological crisis, to a certain extend caused by a concrete economic model of production and consumption, is happening and the mainstream parties tend to see it as a mere technological reshuffling to convert the business as usual into a green business as usual.
There is another approach to the issue of climate change that because of the higher social equality in Europe I haven’t seen in the old continent and that is the social justice approach to climate change and the green economy. Using a politically neutral approach to the current crisis allows to apply technological changes without questioning who profited from the appropriation and exploitation of resources during last centuries. A social justice approach to the current crisis wants to link the problem of climate change to its social causes and impacts, namely; how those who suffer the most from failing states or failing ecosystems are those who profit the less from the economic progress.
Europeans tend to ignore or oversee this point. This is strategically good because it avoids social unrest and allows a civilised response. However this is a problem when dealing with the rest of the world because they have a different take on it. For instance during the Copenhagen summit the developing countries insisted in having Europeans (and north-americans) pay the ecological debt.
In the US, a highly fragmented society in racial, social and economic terms, more and more green movements are linking the green revolution with social demands. After all it is low-wage workers who work in the most polluting industries or live next to a hazardous waste incinerator. Since they are the ones who suffer the most from the wealth that the upper-middle class American families accumulate, it should not surprise anyone that this kind of local movements are growing strong. The reason why it is highly interesting to listen to them is because of the take they have on the green economy i.e.: they promote the real green solutions and do not hesitate bashing the greenwashing from the industry and the political stablishment about using nuclear power or burning waste to fight climate change.
The green revolution has to be linked with a social agenda that allows to decarbonise the economy whilst creating sustainable jobs and social equality. A lots of red-neck Americans call them green-communists. I think that their demands, albeit sometimes too populist, make a lot more sense than the greenwashing with which the industry and in consequence the European and national governments bomb us with everyday. Even what is considered to be quality media promote this greenwashing.
Below a video from Van Jones, one of the leaders of this movement in Oakland, California, founder of “Green for all” and former responsible for Green Jobs for the Obama government –before being target of the neo-cons who ousted him from Washington-. A good example to understand what is going on outside the old continent.