Opinion

Coming soon: a massive laboratory for ‘Green New Deals’

Green New Deals’ are not going to turn countries into ‘hermit nations’,but they are not going to turn countries into economic paradises either. They simply are tools to achieve something more basic: ensure that climate change does not compromise our life in this planet. And this already looks like a good reason for them to be well worth our time.

By: Date: October 1, 2019 Topic: Green economy

This article was also published in Medium

 

Many on the American right view the ‘Green New Deal’ as an unrealistic, Soviet-style, fantasy destined to turn the country into a ‘hermit nation’, but such a project is now about to be tested on half-billion people across the Atlantic.

Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming chief of the European Union’s powerful administrative branch, adopted the ‘European Green Deal’ as her top political priority.

For the first time ever, a large economy will cut a path to climate neutrality by 2050 – a milestone that scientists consider to be the only sensible way to protect the world from the more dramatic impacts of climate change.

Should this experiment succeed, the ‘European Green Deal’ might become a seminal blueprint for other countries around the world; a tangible example that pursuing climate neutrality is not only technically feasible but also economically and politically viable.

The recipe of success for the ‘European Green Deal’ is as simple as it is breath-taking: to intelligently promote deep decarbonisation by accompanying the economic and industrial transformation this necessarily implies, and by ensuring the social inclusiveness of the overall process.

That is, climate policy alone is not sufficient to sensibly pursue climate neutrality. For instance, a strategy only based on raising the price of carbon – either through a visible carbon tax or through an imperceptible emissions trading system – would not bring us anywhere, as people will fiercely reject it. Just ask the ‘Gilets jaunes’.

Only a much broader policy – also encompassing its economic, fiscal, industrial, labour, innovation and social policy aspects can sensibly face such a challenge. This is hardly surprising if considering that shifting our economies from fossil fuels to deep decarbonisation represents one of the major socio-economic revolutions ever seen in history.

To be clear, this is not going to be an easy ride. As in any revolution, there will be winners but also losers. What a ‘European Green Deal’ should do is to facilitate this process by providing a clear sense of direction to both investors and citizens, as well as putting in place mechanisms to ensure that the most vulnerable segments of the society are supported and not left behind.

But to be politically sustainable over time, the ‘European Green Deal’ foremost needs to be honest about its nature.

Recalling Franklin D. Roosevelt, the US discourse often presents the ‘Green New Deal’ as a radical silver-bullet for boosting economic growth and for creating millions of well-paid jobs. But ‘Green New Deals’ needn’t redefine our economics and further polarise our politics. All they need to do is to shift our economies from fossil fuels to zero-carbon in a way that’s socially and politically viable.

That is, ‘Green New Deals’ should not be promoted as powerful economic bazookas, but rather as efficient reallocation mechanisms, fostering investment shifts and labour substitution in key economic sectors, while accompanying the most vulnerable segments of the society throughout the process. In practise, this means promoting a shift from fossil fuels to renewables, turning diesel cars-related jobs into electric cars-related ones, compensating low-income households for higher gasoline prices, or re-training coal miners to get new jobs.

‘Green New Deals’ are not going to turn countries into ‘hermit nations’, but they are not going to turn countries into economic paradises either.

They simply are tools to achieve something more basic: ensure that climate change does not compromise our life in this planet. And this already looks like a good reason for them to be well worth our time.

This is how President von der Leyen should present the ‘European Green Deal’ to make it a successful and sustainable experiment. In these terms, nobody would see it as a fantasy destined to turn Europe into a ‘hermit continent’, but rather as a good – and necessary – operation to ensure the well-being of current and future generations.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint.

Due to copyright agreements we ask that you kindly email request to republish opinions that have appeared in print to [email protected].

Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

[Cancelled] Shifting taxes in order to achieve green goals

[This event is cancelled until further notice] How could shifting the tax burden from labour to pollution and resources help the EU reach its climate goals?

Speakers: Niclas Poitiers and Femke Groothuis Topic: Green economy, Macroeconomic policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 12, 2022
Read article
 

External Publication

The Global Quest for Green Growth: An Economic Policy Perspective

A review on green growth and degrowth arguments.

By: Klaas Lenaerts, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global economy and trade, Green economy Date: May 5, 2022
Read article
 

External Publication

European governance

Green public procurement: A neglected tool in the European Green Deal toolbox?

A new EU regulatory action in public procurement could unlock the potential of green public procurement and add an important element to the European Green Deal toolbox.

By: André Sapir, Tom Schraepen and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: European governance, Green economy Date: April 26, 2022
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Climate migration: what do we really know?

While uncertain, studies suggest that climate change will cause significant internal and international migration over the next century.

By: Klaas Lenaerts and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 25, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

External Publication

Dans l’urgence climatique

Book published by Gallimard and overseen by Groupe d’études géopolitiques (GEG)

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Green economy Date: March 22, 2022
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Decarbonising Germany: conversation with Patrick Graichen

A special off-the-record conversation with Patrick Graichen.

Speakers: Patrick Graichen and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Green economy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: March 10, 2022
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Greening Europe’s post-Covid-19 recovery

At this event Bruegel launches a new Blueprint that collects voices of policymakers and academics on the crucial topic of how to make sure Europe will recover from the pandemic crisis while keeping their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

Speakers: Ian Parry, Simone Tagliapietra, Laurence Tubiana and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Green economy Date: February 24, 2022
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Blueprint

European governance

Greening Europe’s post-COVID-19 recovery

This Blueprint includes some of the Group’s most prominent voices on the different aspects of the multidimensional issue of green recovery.

By: Simone Tagliapietra, Guntram B. Wolff, Georg Zachmann, Laurence Tubiana, Laurence Boone, Antoine Dechezleprêtre, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Klaas Lenaerts, Thomas Wieser, Ottmar Edenhofer, Mirjam Kosch, Michael Pahle, Ian Parry, Robert N. Stavins, Sabine Mauderer and Tomasz Koźluk Topic: European governance Date: February 23, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

Europe’s sustainable taxonomy is a sideshow

The EU taxonomy grossly simplifies a complex and dynamic world. It might help prevent green-washing but other tools are needed to guide green investment.

By: Georg Zachmann Topic: Green economy Date: February 22, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

Europe’s energy crisis

Is Europe’s energy price surge here to stay?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Green economy Date: February 16, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

A new EU treaty to fight climate change

Thirty years after Maastricht, a new treaty is needed: one that will commit the EU to tackling its greatest challenge in the decades ahead, climate change.

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: Green economy Date: February 8, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Letter: The EU’s green taxonomy is a missed opportunity

The taxonomy is unlikely to become the international “gold standard” in the field, which is a missed opportunity.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Green economy Date: February 7, 2022
Load more posts