The death of John Lewis is a reminder that power concedes nothing without a struggle and that social and ecological justice is a consequence of generational efforts.
Building a fair, just, and prosperous ecological future, rooted in social and ecological justice means fundamental change of how we treat one another, how we govern, how we work, how we protect and restore the living world.
What John Lewis saw in the economic and social and public health crises arising in the time of COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd unleashing a global multi-racial and multi-ethic movement for justice was the latest incarnation of his injunction to make "good trouble." But, sadly this unfolded in the midst of a financial bailout largely of the rich as billions pouring into Wall Street as the stock market prospered while tens of millions lost their jobs as Main Street suffered, and the worst effects of a pandemic are borne by the poor, by people of color, by essential workers.
For the election of Joe Biden to mean an epochal turn toward social and ecological justice cannot be a return to business as usual BT (before Trump). This means the transformation of institutions, organizations, and businesses to follow new mandates established bylaw, by regulation, by custom to pursue ecological ends and justice.
A market system must make economic growth mean ecological improvement, not ecological pillage while pursuing as an imperative of ecological and social justice. A failure to successfully fight for justice will ultimately undermine any ecological hope as the poor struggle desperately for survival. Justice denied also means the continuing growth of the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very few.
Six steps for a transformative green and just future:
- First, the United States with China, India, and the OECD nations lead efforts for an accelerated global energy transformation from fossil fuel and nuclear power to renewable resources and green hydrogen. This is a paradigmatic example of economic growth meaning ecological improvement. Carbon emissions, pollution, depletion and ecological damage are slashed. Trillions are productively invested in renewable economic growth and job creation. Fossil fuel and nuclear workers are retrained for good-paying jobs in the green economy. Renewable resources are phased in year by year, and fossil fuel and nukes are phased on a strict yearly schedule.
The United States partners with the word's industrial powers in global efforts which will include financial and technological assistance to poor nations for ecological transformation.
- Second, the price system must send clear signals for sustainability. Sustainable goods must become cheaper, more profitable and gain market share. This can be accomplished by an ecological value-added tax on all goods and services. The more sustainable, the lower the tax. Such a taxation system will inevitably help lead to a convergence on the sustainable for almost all goods and services in pursuit of profit. Ecological taxes combined with a wealth tax will replace income taxes.
- Third, in order to finance an ecological and just transformation, instead of raising taxes, we can great trillions of wealth by valuing and monetizing sustainability starting with the ecological value of displacement metric tons of carbon dioxide by renewables. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has found the value of displacing of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (2204 pounds) is equal to $100.
We can create a new regulatory asset, the Sustainability Credit (SC) valued at $100 for each metric ton of carbon dioxide displaced by renewable energy. SCs to be managed as part of the Federal Reserve System, and by other central banks. We don't need carbon taxes to raise prices on working people and the poor.
Sustainability Credits will be monetized as paid-in capital and as cash on the balance sheet of a Green Bank or Bank of the Commons. The thirty-three billion tons (gigatons) of annual carbon dioxide emissions can result in creation eventually of hundreds of trillions as in paid-in capital and cash on the books of green banks to be used for investment in future renewables.
A gigaton of carbon displacement means $100 billion in sustainability credits on the books of a green bank who must loan this money for further renewable energy investment. The common magic of bank financing, $100 billion in paid-in capital, and cash means loans of 900 billion in further renewable development that each year produces more Sustainability Credits that monetized. Investment from SCs can encompass both ecological transformation and social justice such as a $1,000 a month basic income grant for all.
The fifty trillion-dollar investment estimated by J.P. Morgan for a global renewable transformation from 2020-2050 can be easily produced by Sustainability Credits as the new gold-based on sustainable ecological value. around the world.
- Fourth, the ecological transformation must be pursued not just in energy, but in agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, and an industrial ecology driven by the pursuit of zero pollution and zero waste. All outputs of one process are captured and used as inputs by other processes. The ecological value added tax sends strong economic incentives for such conduct that can be similarly financed through the generation of Sustainability Credits.
- Fifth, is a global convergence on a living wage and common sustainable standards for carbon generation and carbon sequestration. Globally there must a convergence on common sustainable norms for emissions and carbon sequestration that leads to atmospheric carbon below 300 ppm, to pre-industrial levels.
- Sixth, law and regulation must redefine fiduciary conduct as the pursuit of ecological economic growth within the context of social and ecological justice as guide for government, institutions, and business. This might also be codified by an ecological constitutional amendment.
These six steps are a recipe for ecological economic growth, for sustainability, peace, and justice. They represent spurs to economic and social action that uses an ecological focused pursuit of profit as incentive for ecological behavior and embraces the imperative for pursuit of social and ecological justice.
This is a recipe for an ecological future that transforms our self-destructive industrial world order into an ecological civilization. This is a global ecological economic growth strategy that aims to build a bigger pie that is fairly and justly divided, ending poverty and injustice, at the same time healing the global ecosphere. Ecological economic growth and an ecological turn is a means for strengthening our democratic institutions and revitalizing our democracy.
Roy Morrison builds solar farms. His company, Renewable Sun Partners, is based in Newton, Mass. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.