The Green New Deal is a visionary program to protect the earth’s climate while creating good jobs, reducing injustice, and eliminating poverty. Its core principle is to use the necessity for climate protection as a basis for realizing full employment and social justice. The Green New Deal first emerged as a proposal for national legislation, and the struggle to embody it in national legislation is ongoing. But there has also emerged a little-noticed wave of initiatives from community groups, unions, city and state governments, tribes, and other non-federal institutions designed to contribute to the climate protection and social justice goals of the Green New Deal. We will call these the Green New Deal from Below (GNDfB).
Once upon a time, the growth of a country’s Gross Domestic Product would actually lead to social progress. In the first few decades after the Second World War, growth was invested in collective institutions like health and education systems. Tax rates were progressive and growth was directed to those who needed it most. Unfortunately, this so-called ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ did not last very long. Within a few decades, we managed to shift to an economic system dictated by market fundamentalism. “We have been undermining our collective institutions, tax rates have been cut down for the very wealthiest and scientists are getting louder with their warnings about environmental breakdown”, author, researcher and advocate for a Wellbeing Economy Katherine Trebeck explains.
Resistance to privatisation has turned into a powerful force for change. (Re)municipalisation refers to the reclaiming of public ownership of services as well as the creation of new public services. In recent years, our research has identified more than 1,400 successful (re)municipalisation cases involving more than 2,400 cities in 58 countries around the world. But this book is about more than just numbers. It shows that public services are more important than ever in the face of the climate catastrophe, mounting inequalities, and growing political unrest. Together, civil society organisations, trade unions, and local authorities are crafting new templates for how to expand democratic public ownership to all levels of society and opening up new routes to community-led and climate conscious public services.
In 2015, a wave of social movements lifted left-wing mayors to power in Spain. Their experience in office shows the importance of linking institutional power to bottom-up mobilization.