Ecological Sustainability additions

Platform Submission by GPNY to GPUS

RE: Climate change and Green New Deal

A.   Name of party/caucus/committee and co-chair contact information

New York Green Party.

B. Brief explanation of approval process and date of approval

The platform amendment was submitted to the State Committee of the Green Party of New York under the rules governed by the party’s by-laws on submission of proposals. It was sponsored by 8 SC members. The proposal was approved by an on-line vote of the state committee members between 12/27 – 12/30

C.  Contact Information for author or designated contact person: name, address, phone, e-mail.

Mark Dunlea, 156 Big Toad Road, Poestenkill NY 12140. 518

 D.  Chapter of the platform and letter of plank being addressed

The sections below would be amended.  III. Ecological Sustainability A. Climate B. Energy

E. Language to be replaced

First area

III. Ecological Sustainability. A. Climate

A. Green Solutions.

1.  Strong International Climate Treaty

We call for legally binding commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2020 and a 95% reduction by 2050 over 1990 levels.

5. Clean Energy, Green and Jobs

b. Transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, with at least 80 percent achieved by 2030, using wind, solar, ocean, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power.

B. Energy

7. Requirements for Energy System

d. A series of challenging yet feasible targets should be set, with the ultimate goal—complete freedom from fossil fuel dependency — to be achieved by 2050.

F. Language to be Added

The Green Party of New York State hereby submits the following proposal to the Green Party of the US

That the national Green Party Platform be amended to support the Green New Deal and the goal of transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2030.

That the following two provisions be reflected in the national Platform:

First: The national platform is hereby changed in the section on climate change to change target goals for the transition to 100% renewables to be by 2030.

Second: The following language is added to the GPUS platform as an addition to III. A. Climate Change. Our position.

–    Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems.

–    Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.

–    Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

–    Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation.  Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy.

 –  End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies.  End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.”


The proposed language changes reflect the policy positions on climate change that have been promoted by the Green Party of NY since 2010 and the Green Party presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016. (See Green New Deal)

At COP 21 in Paris, the developing countries pushed the industrial polluters such as the United States to reduce the proposed cap on global warming from 2 degrees centigrade to 1.5 degrees centigrade in order to avoid catastrophic change. To achieve the lower gap will require an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 7 to 0% on an annual basis. To accomplish these goals we must combine a rapid transition to renewals with a halt to the further use of fossil fuels.

Much of the existing language in the Green platform reflects the old goal of trying to cap global warming at 2 degrees centigrade

The Jacobson study by Stanford and Cornell professors showed that it was technologically feasible to move to 100% clean energy in NYS by 2030 (see also his prior national study). The US Conference of Mayors in June 2017 called for local governments to set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2035.

Moving to 100% clean energy will create jobs, reduce air pollution and negative health impacts, and lower electric bills compared to continued reliance upon fossil fuels.

The transition to 100% clean energy should incorporate related issues such as environmental and climate justice, a Just Transition for impacted worker and communities, and energy democracy / public ownership and control of the energy system.

9 thoughts on “Ecological Sustainability additions”

  1. I am impressed w those additions and clarifications. However, I do not think it is required that displaced workers get guaranteed full income and benefits.

    When innovations are made, new jobs are created and some are made obsolete. Worker training, but not guaranteed income makes sense. Please consider deleting the 2nd sentence of that paragraph that already describes how there will be a Just Transition to those most effected communities.

  2. One of my biggest frustrations in regard to climate change and alternative energy is that it is almost always focused on the “supply side” of the energy issue. The underlying and erroneous assumption is that we can continue to live the way we live and consume the way we consume and the only problem is how the energy we need is produced.

    However, if you actually do the math, the chances of that happening are zero. Even if we can get 100% of our energy “needs” from alternative sources, we will not be able to continue the lifestyles and consumption patterns we now have. The problem is that we need an energy policy that addresses the “demand side” as well.

    For example, currently all public utilities are required by law to provide as much energy as we demand. That has to change.

    Even if we could produce all of the energy that we “need” through renewable sources, there are other limits. One is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but I won’t get into that. Another is the limit to the strategic minerals that are coming into play that will require the alteration of our lifestyles and consumption patterns. Actually, the limits to these strategic resources will make achieving the total replacement of our current energy systems with 100% renewable energy by 2050, yet alone 2030, pretty much a pipe dream. (see Ugo Bardi’s “Extracted”
    Studies that purport to show that it is possible to make such a transition to renewables in a relatively short time frame are limited in their scope and focus and do not try to make a wider analysis of all of the systems involved.

    Furthermore, all of the renewable energy systems that would be required to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030 would be produced using our current energy systems. How many battery powered earth movers are there to extract the aluminum ore that will be needed? How many electric railways are there to transport that ore to the smelter? How many solar or wind powered smelters are there to turn that ore into pure aluminum metal? Do you get the picture?

    This is why the “demand side” must be addressed. It’d not a matter of simple replacement of one energy system with another. It’s about making choices and a total change in what citizens of the developed world consider necessary to have a sustainable lifestyle.

    This proposal would greatly benefit from acknowledging that alternative energy will never replace our dependence on nonrenewable energy sources unless we begin to address the “demand side” of the issue and begin to make choices about what types of energy consuming products and processes are essential and which ones we must learn to consign to the rubbish heap.

  3. Our species must be jolted out of its cognitive dissonance seated in collective apathy and denial. We are now way pass the tipping point of the life killing impact of our polluting the planet. We are in a sixth extinction and in the 59th minute.

    Ban all coal mining and plant production by 2025. Ban all combustion engines by 2030. Ban all plastics by 2035. Ban all mineral extraction by 2035. Ban all transmission power lines by 2035 on all three grids – western, eastern and Texas. Nationalize the energy sector and net service providers. Ban all cement production by 2030.

  4. I welcome much of the added language while sharing Bruce Hinkforth’s concern that more emphasis needs to be given to reducing the “demand” side of the equation. The language we are now evaluating does not foreclose this shift in emphasis, as conservation is at least mentioned, but I am leery of using the metaphor of a wartime mobilization, as it implies supply-side decisions made in haste, without thorough environmental review. Industrial scale solar and wind projects on lands and waters with habitat and sequestration value should not be hastily approved when most roofs and parking lots remain bare of such facilities.

    We need to steer clear of trendy consumer baubbles such as subsidizing the purchase of electric cars (forcing non-driving taxpayers to help economically comfortable people buy fancy cars) when their total ecological footprint is not significantly different from fuel-burning cars, and when the huge demand for electricity needed to charge millions of cars every day would militate against reliance on intermittent renewable sources. We need to question the climate responsibility of high-speed rail when high speed equals high energy, and when the time “saved” in fast travel is more than overbalanced by the vast amount of taxpayer time indentured to paying for the facilities and the energy use. Invest in improvements and operations of conventional rail; if we could get back the passenger rail service (local and intercity) that existed in the 1920’s, we would be amazed at the easy and comfortable mobility that would be afforded to all. Part of the cultural change needed to restrain demand is to SLOW DOWN: less emphasis on speed, a deceleration of our movements, expectations, and of the pressures on us.

    I welcome the initiative of the youth in proposing language that emphasizes drawdown, and believe that much of the needed transition must focus on protecting and (to the extent that it is ecologically responsible) enhancing the ability of organisms to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. I am glad to see public transit mentioned as part of the plank; our investment in public transit needs to consider not only capital improvements but operating needs of current and future systems. Capital investments could include pilot projects for innovative ideas such as podcars on monorails (PRT) where communities desire such amenities. An improved infrastructure for non-motorized mobility also needs to be part of the “Green New Deal,” and the place of regenerative agriculture in the total picture requires a complete shift in emphasis (recognized elsewhere in the Green Platform) from the practice in current farm bills of subsidizing corporate-scale land mining for corn syrup and feed for confined animals to an emphasis on rewarding family and indigenous farmers for their land restoration services as well as for providing safe, unpoisoned, nutritious food. If 20 million jobs are to be created, many of them should be on the land.

  5. Realisticly, we probably need to change “2030” to “2034” or “2035” in each place it is used.

    Since we can’t start until 2020 at the earliest, and we are likely to be starting from a worse place than we would have in 2016.

  6. @Bruce Hinkforth

    “One of my biggest frustrations in regard to climate change and alternative energy is that it is almost always focused on the “supply side” of the energy issue.”

    That’s probably inevitable. If we tell people we can get enough energy to do what we need to do, they will like that. If we tell them that their energy-inefficient houses have negative net value, that they will have to give up their cars and walk or bicycle or take taxis or buses everywhere they will hate it. They will not vote for that.

    Every other party tells voters they will do their best to get what voters want, and then when it doesn’t happen they make excuses and say it isn’t their fault. It’s a big gamble to just tell the truth and hope the majority will vote for us anyway.

    We do however call for a WWII-style effort. Rationing, recycle most trash for the war effort, buy war bonds and hope they will be good for something later. Americans put up with that for 3.5 years after the Great Depression. Would they put up with it for 10 years? 15 years? When it isn’t a real war? Jimmy Carter called for the moral equivalent of war and they voted him out. When Americans are ready to sacrifice they want it to be for a real war, and not a moral substitute. We can hope we can change that around.

    “Actually, the limits to these strategic resources will make achieving the total replacement of our current energy systems with 100% renewable energy by 2050, yet alone 2030, pretty much a pipe dream.”

    We have no choice but to find solar power methods (etc) that use little or none of the resources in short supply. We are making good progress along those lines, and we’re still low on the learning curve. We have to assume we can do that, or else give up. If we can do it quick enough we can get renewable energy on schedule. If not, we will fall behind schedule and suffer energy shortages that we must handle somehow.

    We are going to have to do various projects that use up energy, and if we don’t have it then we can’t do those projects. For example, a whole lot of agriculture that doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides and much less inorganic fertilizer. It will take energy to switch.

    “Furthermore, all of the renewable energy systems that would be required to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030 would be produced using our current energy systems.”

    Yes. The best EPBT for solar power is around 1 year. (I haven’t looked at that for 6 months, it could be shorter now.) So if we use half the energy from solar power for building more solar power, and the other half for other things, the doubling time is 2 years. We would need about 8.5 doublings to reach 100% solar power, so that’s 16 to 18 years assuming our technology does not improve. This is all back-of-the-envelope numbers, affected by lots of other things that could change the results, but it’s probably within 30% or better. We can probably do that by 2038, and we can leave the hardest problems of energy concentration until last. We might easily get results quicker, depending on details like how fast our technology improves.

    Meanwhile we will reduce consumption. Government figures often assume that total energy consumption will go down 20% by 2050. Very likely the reduction will be more, but a lot of it will be things people don’t like. For example, fancy electric cars might be for rich people, and middle-class people find themselves buying dinky cheap electric cars as second cars, and use them as much as they can, feeling dinky and cheap while they do their daily routines and the expensive cars that show their status sit at home. Then they feel too poor to replace the status cars which get older and older, and they feel cheaper and cheaper. Tell them this is what you want and they will not vote for you.

    Tell them their cars spend 96% of the time parked and they do better to take self-driving taxis all the time and they won’t like that either.

    On the other hand, we offer people clean food and clean air, that won’t poison them. Healthier lives that won’t require so much expensive healthcare, which itself will be much cheaper for the society and not ala carte for individuals. Benefits that only the wealthiest can get now. Let’s emphasize the good parts, and not the sacrifices which will be forced on them by reality no matter who wins the election.

  7. Agreed entirely with this proposal. In the following paragraph, I would add a reference to our support of Universal Basic Income, instead of the language “full income”:

    ” Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.”

  8. Relative to Jonah Thomas’ comments, he read “World War II-scale national mobilization” as emphasizing the sacrifice elements (rationing of gasoline and many foodstuffs, no new cars, 35-mph speed limit to conserve rubber, etc.) while I had read it as emphasizing the production elements such as massive hasty shipbuilding and military hardware. In both cases, we are uncomfortable with that language, and perhaps adding to that discomfort is the lack of clarity of whether this mobilization is a call for sacrifice, a call for production, or both.

    Our platform does not tell people they have to give up cars, or meat, or any of the other things we hope to see less of in the economy, however, we rightly insist that the true costs of these products no longer be externalized to be carried by the general tax base, but that the true costs be carried by those who choose to use the products. It also calls for all people to have sufficient incomes that they can meaningfully choose what costly habits they will indulge in or not.

    I do hope the recent fatal accidents are slowing the stampede toward self-driving cars, taxi or otherwise. They are NOT a “green” solution to anything. They are a terrible mix sharing the surface with driven cars, bicycles, and pedestrians, and any effort to pre-empt these latter uses would rightly meet massive resistance. While the footprint of parking might shrink in area, assuming car ownership got scarcer once any car could be easily summoned to one’s door, vehicle miles traveled would likely massively increase, as each trip would involve, at best, the extra miles from wherever the summoned car had been to the point at which it would begin the ordered trip, and, at worst, in the absence of parking places for them, the miles they spend aimlessly cruising around awaiting a call. In other words, if we were to benefit from substantial decreases in space devoted to parking, the environmental and congestion cost would issue from all the driving they would do empty between spurts of carrying people. What we MUST NOT do is use the presumed inevitability of driverless cars as an excuse to diminish support for public transit, which is far more efficient than any proliferation of any kind of car.

  9. I share the concern Bruce and Eric expressed regarding the need to emphasize downscaling demand.

    The other problem I have with this proposal is the call for a national smart-grid. Power companies are pushing hard in this direction, but, as Greens, shouldn’t we be calling for small-scale, localized grids? This makes more sense for community control of our energy systems, and for security.

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