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A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal

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In the twenty-first century, all politics are climate politics.

The age of climate gradualism is over, as unprecedented disasters are exacerbated by inequalities of race and class. We need profound, radical change. A Green New Deal can tackle the climate emergency and rampant inequality at the same time. Cutting carbon emissions while winning immediate gains for the many is the only way to build a movement strong enough to defeat big oil, big business, and the super-rich—starting right now.

A Planet to Win explores the political potential and concrete first steps of a Green New Deal. It calls for dismantling the fossil fuel industry and building beautiful landscapes of renewable energy, guaranteeing climate-friendly work and no-carbon housing and free public transit. And it shows how a Green New Deal in the United States can strengthen climate justice movements worldwide. We don’t make politics under conditions of our own choosing, and no one would choose this crisis. But crises also present opportunities. We stand on the brink of disaster—but also at the cusp of wondrous, transformative change.

208 pages, Paperback

First published November 12, 2019

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Kate Aronoff

6 books44 followers

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5 stars
224 (35%)
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289 (45%)
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91 (14%)
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23 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 87 reviews
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
December 18, 2019
Lucid and inspirational, A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal clearly outlines what a GND would entail and considers how its core policies might be swiftly implemented. The co-authors write easy-to-read prose and seamlessly embed the United States' social and political history into their discussion of what needs to change in the nation, if global climate catastrophe's to be averted. Wealthy countries and the capitalist elite in particular, the book stresses, are mostly responsible for skyrocketing emissions and should carry the cost of building a humane, sustainable world. The authors offer clear-cut ideas about what that might concretely look like, making this well worth checking out ahead of the 2020 election.
Profile Image for Patrick M..
36 reviews5 followers
November 21, 2019
Very interesting and incredibly detailed in certain areas. However, could have used less snark about urbanists, and more discussion of what "democratic planning" actually means.

Overall, it's kind of a "two cheers for New Hipster Socialism" for me. Despite the frequent invocation of democratic planning and diversity, there's some very retro twitchiness towards a "bigger-is-better"/Soviet futurism vision which doesn't leave much room for the local, the small, the particular. In the chapter on resources, the discussion on lithium mining goes on for a while (very admirably) about indigenous concerns in Chile and Bolivia.

However, what happens when people see all the benefits, are included in decision-making, and still say "no"? (this question applies far beyond this topic). The text seems to hint that no right-thinking person could possibly say no to a lot of the book's vision if it is just presented right - but that brings us back to the question of who decides and what "democratic planning" really means.

The new socialism has a decidedly ambivalent relationship to what could be called the "new anarchism" or the "anarchist squint", as James C. Scott calls it. From Occupy to Rojava to the burgeoning discourse on the commons, there are a world of alternatives other than market or state supremacy. It would be interesting if a follow-on to this book would more closely examine the question of what governance in this kind of world would look like - if, to use Naomi Klein's term, "Blockadia", not only had the kind of consultative voice that it is often allocated these days but could participate in actual governance. It would be nice, too, to examine the role of the "rights of nature" movement and the agency of non-human entities, be they animals or rivers. The new socialism seems very human-focused, but can it go beyond Marxism's problematic relationship with the non-human world?

Anyways, it's an extremely good book, and I'd recommend it to everyone. Just offering some avenues for future discussion.
18 reviews7 followers
February 23, 2020
I'm broadly in favor of the Green New Deal and liked much of Naomi Klein's recent book "On Fire" which is something akin to a moral argument for the framework. This is meant to be something like a preview of what a GND would actually look like, but I feel the tone and quality of writing do huge disservices to the book. It's obviously not written to convince skeptics but rather to affirm those who've already mostly bought in, which can be fine, but I probably would not have bought it had I known going in how removed from critical engagement it would be. The thoughtful details about how the transformation of an entire energy sector should happen are radical, original, and valuable, but probably would have been better served in the hands of more skilled and critically engaged writing. This is the first time I've wished a book had been written a bit more academically.

For example, the authors write:

"Fossil fuel executives in particular should consider themselves lucky if all we do is take their companies. They should be tried for crimes against humanity."

Yeah, they should, but you can't just use the imperative mood to will unlikelihoods and power dynamics into existence as if dressing for the job you want rather than the job you have. Indulgent and clunky rhetorical flourishes like that paint an urgent and already very popular project as naive rather than inspirational.

Really surprised Quinn Slobodian's review was as glowing as it is:
Profile Image for Sean Estelle.
368 reviews22 followers
November 5, 2019
Every word here is urgently necessary and drives towards the articulation of a political program for a radical, ecosocialist Green New Deal. In many ways, this is an expanded pamphlet/broadside more than an entire book - but that doesn’t detract from the ideas laid out here in the least. I wish there had been more space for deepening the vision of a transformed built and natural environment than just in the intro and conclusion, but even those passages serving as a bookend were gorgeous. This is the definitive case for abandoning any sort of incrementalism or tacking towards the center in our political aspirations to solve the climate crisis - I hope every single climate NGO staffer buys and reads a copy and then buys a copy for 3 coworkers (and then unionizes their workplace and joins a local DSA-led coalition for public ownership campaigning).
Profile Image for Ava Mohsenin.
38 reviews
April 17, 2023
This book was the answer to critics’ dismissal of the “Green New Dream… or whatever”, it’s an outline of a future I couldn’t articulate. I watched my entrenched self slowly peel off layers of doubt and cynicism, each chapter a resounding case for what *actually is* possible. It felt like a break from the reality of today, and captured the optimism of 2019, pre-COVID, pre-Biden breaking almost every climate promise. I desperately want this world to exist, and man, do we have work to do to get there.

One of my favorite passages was what felt like an off-hand brainstorm for effective coalition actions for a Green New Deal: Imagine if a coalition of construction workers’ unions and housing movements rallied around a commitment to building dense, no-carbon public housing on a mass scale… if transit workers shut down the city in conjunction with groups talking about free transit… if sanitation workers refusing to pick up the trash until cities commit to building recycling and compost facilities and hiring workers to staff them, backed by communities impacted by waste pollutions.
301 reviews41 followers
January 23, 2021
This is less "why we need a green new deal" and more "this is what a necessarily radical GND would look like", and it was very good. It touches on fossil fuels, labour and job transition, job and housing security, a reduction in both consumption and work (4 day work week) and international solidarity. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on international solidarity and how technological innovation isn't enough (electric cars will not solve the climate crisis and will exploit those in South America where lithium is mined). I also liked the focus on the fundamental flaws in the current capitalist system, the fact it's literally entirely based on maximising growth for business shareholders - an unequivocally unsustainable way of life that only increases the wealth/class gap. The ideas are big and daunting at times but guess we've got no choice but to fight for it.

Overall, this is a very accessible and short introduction to a GND and I would really recommend it.
Profile Image for Alex.
149 reviews
July 10, 2020
Read for a college writing course and it was actually super interesting! Definitely political, but the reasoning they make is really solid and backed by concrete evidence and examples.
Profile Image for Haley.
66 reviews4 followers
December 20, 2019
We should all be organizing in an urgent way in favor of an anti-racist Green New Deal. This book is a good reminder about what's at stake and just how quickly we need to act. Confrontation with oil and gas companies, whose business models are incompatible with averting climate crisis, will be necessary - and utilities companies who value their bottom lines over their roles in extreme weather events (like deadly fires in California) have to be held accountable. But this book lays out not only who and what we're fighting against, but what we're fighting for. It articulates a radical, inclusive, and achievable vision about what a low carbon world would look like - green affordable housing, a jobs guarantee, shorter work weeks, more time to engage in community- and nature-based leisure, free and efficient and electric public transit, and more. Importantly, it also acknowledges that global supply chains will be involved in our transition to a Green New Deal, and that this is an opportunity to build solidarity across communities and countries - this time, we need to respect indigenous lands, focus on local input into extractive processes, and reduce unnecessary demand/consumption no matter what.
Profile Image for Dan.
143 reviews2 followers
August 23, 2020
Um, I want these people in the room during the negotiations on the New Green Deal, but not sure they should be the lead negotiators. I was hoping this would be an uplifting book filled with lots of great ideas, it turned out to be a seemingly rushed publication with definitely some good ideas, but with lots of impractical or even outlandish ideas as well.

They lost me when they spent more than one sentence on the idea of "Nuremberg trials" for oil company executives, going on for at least a few paragraphs on the idea. I mean, yeah, do they deserve it, sure, but do we want to squander political capital bringing US citizens to a global court for crimes against humanity? I guess they are more optimistic about what will be palatable to the American public in the future.
Profile Image for Montana Goodman.
167 reviews9 followers
January 20, 2020
Strong and informed, this book will bring out the best in you. And that is exactly what we need in order to bring about a safer, more egalitarian, more democratic world not just for those of us in the US but all over the world. I will be reading this again soon!
Profile Image for Aine.
130 reviews
April 9, 2020
“But despite the erudite self-loathing of so much climate writing in the liberal press, the enemy isn’t us.”

It took about three pages into the introduction to decide that this was the environmental book for me. While it mightn’t needs as strong as The Case For A Green New Deal (presumably due to having multiple authors), A Planet To Win is certainly a companion book to Ann Pettifor’s and develops a builds up a radical Green New Deal so that progressives can imagine a future to campaign on.

Already having a good vase in arguments around a Green New Deal and labour, energy systems, homes and transport, it was most striking (and most refreshing) to see international matters dealt with an upfront and realistic manner rather than tokenisation manner, both in terms of resource extraction itself and trade.

Another positive aspect is the call to name the enemy (fossil fuel companies and their executives) and to insist on state involvement, highlighting that allowing for clean energy islands is discriminatory.

Would recommend.
Profile Image for Indira.
113 reviews5 followers
October 30, 2022
An interesting peek into what kind of changes we could make in the US as part of a move towards a greener world. Based on the title, I assumed it would be an argument towards *why* we need a Green New Deal (GND), but it felt more of an explanation of what it would entail instead, which is not a bad thing, just a bit unexpected. Some of the examples here also felt handwave-y —I think it's the fact that a lot of the examples focus on the US (and I get why, it's a book geared towards American readers after all), but we obviously can't get to where we need to be unless we have a plan for how the rest of the world will evolve and adapt.

Overall, I do think it's quite an inspiring book and I'd recommend it to others who are interested in learning more about solutions to the climate issue.
Profile Image for Héctor.
65 reviews12 followers
July 10, 2022
Muy interesante como visión de lo que implicaría un “Green New Deal Radical”. Aunque algunas de las muchas ideas que contiene son generales, el libro (como no puede ser de otra forma) está muy centrado en la historia y contexto de los Estados Unidos (aunque sí que aborda la dimensión extractivista que podría tener el Green New Deal). Escrito en 2019, antes de la victoria de Biden, la Pandemia y la invasión de Ucrania, necesita, como cualquier libro sobre transición ecológica y GND, ser repensado a la luz de esos acontecimientos. Aun así, 100% recomendable
49 reviews4 followers
September 6, 2022
"y'all wanna burn it all down but haven't even thought of what you'd put up in its place" is a tweet I read today, and this is a good antidote for that. A lot of vivid descriptions of a radical green new deal future, plus good existing examples of how to get there. Sometimes it gets a little too Marxist, like guys stop you're scaring the libs, but even then I would defend it as being more utopian than communist - we will likely never reach it, but it's the direction we should always be heading.
Profile Image for Zack.
67 reviews2 followers
August 24, 2020
The book made a convincing case for almost every high-level initiative's inclusion in the GND, either in support of decarbonization or ensuring that the impact does the least amount of damage, particularly to those least well off, nationally and internationally. It's a compelling argument for an urgent and nationally coordinated radical effort.
Profile Image for Josh Graves.
62 reviews4 followers
July 27, 2020
Reads a bit like a manifesto of a perfect future. Gave me hope that things like this can happen, and I'd love to see even the basic ideas in this come to light, but who knows.
116 reviews2 followers
September 7, 2020
exactly what to expect from a dsa-verso-jacobin collab.
lmao at this quote though: “Carbon-free leisure doesn’t just mean wholesome hobbies like hiking and gardening—we’re firm believers in eco-friendly hedonism. Give us time for long dinners with friends and plenty of organic wine; outdoor adventures enhanced by legal weed grown and harvested by well-paid agricultural workers; skinny-dipping in lakes that reflect moon and starlight.”
Profile Image for Eilif.
55 reviews1 follower
October 11, 2020
3.5/5 (rounded up). Some excellent points in this book and it nicely lays out different aspects of the GND. However I felt it paled in comparisons to Stan Cox’s GND book where the arguments were sharper, the evidence clearer, and the writing generally more convincing. The highlight of this book was how the GND plays out overseas and links global supply change to American politics.
Profile Image for Kai.
Author 1 book130 followers
December 3, 2019
Easy to read, clear, straight to the point introduction to the principles and especially *vision* of an ecosocialist Green New Deal. The authors will not bore you with policy details, but instead focus on the stakes of a GND and innovative components that might be included in such a world. These include trying fossil fuel execs for criminal offenses; nationalizing and democratizing the energy grid; shorter work weeks and new forms of public leisure; supply-chain solidarity; new public housing units; and many more potentially popular ideas. These are organized by demanding five new forms of freedom that will be at the center of that vision. If you've been following the Jacobin GND series, you will be familiar with some of these ideas, but they're more fleshed out in the book format.

There are some inklings of a strategy to win a GND laid out here as well. The authors propose something called a "virtuous cycle", which is basically a positive feedback loop for building better and more just livelihoods at the same time as building a mass constituency who can push for and uphold any achievements gained. This they describe as a "Left-populist" strategy; it is in part based on New Deal struggles as well as the US Civil Rights movement.

I'm left with a few questions by the end - concerning strategy and political economy alike. Still, this book should be evaluated for what it accomplishes: a highly-readable, motivating vision for a better and more just world that lays out the stakes for why it must be (at bare minimum) ecosocialist and transnational in orientation.
93 reviews
December 7, 2019
Excellent contribution to the debate around the need for a radical transformation of our society, which needs to go further than individual changes in our individual lives and instead has to completely change how we organise society: the role of production and leisure time, the use of technology, housing, transportation, urban planning, etc.

The authors have made an immense effort to synthesise the urgency of the climate crisis, the need for mass, grassroot movements, the importance of political and technological advances and the different ways in which a new world would be better than the current one in less that 200 pages.

While some topics are simply glossed over (such as emigration), other are covered more in depth (internationalism, local vs national sovereignty, housing and transport...).

My only critique is that it's too US-centric to be widely recommended in other countries outside certain groups of people, which is a shame because it is a very easy read and makes very solid points. This is probably a strong selling point for the book in the US, which is its intended market.
Profile Image for Jake.
56 reviews9 followers
December 3, 2019
This is a handy guide to what a Green New Deal could look like and explanation of why it is needed, with a useful exploration of the original New Deal as a possible template for it, including its shortcomings. Highly recommended for people that might need convincing or as an antidote to climate despair one often finds among liberals.
The downside of the book is that if you’re already a convinced eco-socialist then you won’t learn anything new, and you might be disappointed that the book stops short of exploring what ending capitalism altogether would entail and how a Green New Deal would help us do it, rather than merely ameliorating the negative effects of capitalism.
Profile Image for Beebo.
7 reviews5 followers
December 28, 2019
I will absolutely recommend this book to my friends. It is simply one of the best books on GND as a systematic solution to our current climate crisis (and more). The ‘freedom to’ part in conclusion really moved me.
Profile Image for Emily Eaton.
Author 2 books8 followers
July 19, 2021
Great quick read that lays out the fundamentals of a plan for a green new deal. But this book does not deal adequately with decolonization
Profile Image for Robert.
130 reviews8 followers
October 8, 2020
An interesting and important book, which hits home the concept that solutions to the climate crisis need to be systemic. What the authors do well is also the thing I imagine open them up to the most criticism--dreaming big, writing a portrait of a possible carbon-zero future that is more equal and pleasant to live in. And they take us back to the original New Deal, which I think they could have spent even more time on. The engineering and infrastructure products of the New Deal are still standing to a large degree--well built and attractive--and standing as a testament to what government can achieve on its citizens' behalf.

On that note, too, as I listen to the debates in the current political season, Republicans try to paint Democrats as Socialists, and warn about job losses if we go green, when arguably the need to replace infrastructure would create jobs and give a shot in the arm to the economy.

The dream isn't really so farfetched. A year ago, no one could have imagined the toll of the current pandemic, and as the world heats up and we lose ecosystems, more zoonotic diseases will emerge. This is not part of the book, but should be in the back of everyone's mind right now. The alternative to dramatic action such as the Green New Deal will be horrific. The need for dramatic action is clear. The political will is still a long way off in this country.

Details: One of the more specific arguments in this book, about housing, has me thinking about the unequal distribution of heating and cooling costs, when lower income housing is built with cheap materials--and that these costs are a larger part by percentage of salaries in lower income households.

Criticism: While I find myself agreeing with most of the policy ideas in this book, it's clear the writers aren't trying to turn anyone from the other side--it's a bit tone-deaf to the culture wars. In one section, speaking about the extraction industries (numbering at 54,000 coal miners, 1.4 million workers in gas and oil) "That's a lot of people and they all deserve to have good work after we abolish their industries." The phrase echoes the fear-mongering slogans of conservative, that they will take away your jobs. The need for eloquence is important too.
Profile Image for Joseph.
46 reviews18 followers
August 15, 2021
I was familiar with Thea, Alyssa, and Kate's writing through Twitter and I was familiar with many of the climate issues discussed in the book. Still I think this is overall a nice short and effective manifesto for what a left vision of the GND could be. I found the first chapter (Kate's?) on taking on energy companies and utilities, with a focus on democratizing them through public ownership and coops, and the fourth chapter (Thea's) on the material limits and international aspects of the green transition to be the most interesting and useful (did you know that in addition to consuming massive amounts of water and degrading Indigenous and peasant lands, studies suggest that the lithium mining necessary to supply a full global switch to EVs will consume more than twice of what it's economical to extract, and nearly 85 percent of global lithium resources by 2050?? Clearly that's a nonstarter -- we need mass public transit and walkable cities yesterday). The second chapter "Strike for Sunshine" is I think the weakest one -- it's less about concrete details about what must be done as it is about trumpeting loosely fitting historical examples and pumping up current organizing, though I do appreciate its suggestion of looking to build alliances through potentially unlikely combinations, like extractive industry workers with environmental justice community activists. Overall I found the writing engaging, but the use of purple prose to describe the world of the GND -- including such details as people skinny-dipping and college students using edibles -- felt a little corny and infantilizing, and left something to be desired. It should be noted, though, that the vision described here is far from utopian, and the authors know it -- even the GND world they describe includes protests against the slow pace of the transition, dangerous air temperatures, natural disasters, ramped up mining, and mass climate migration. This is the world that decades of capitalist exploitation has locked in for us though -- it's up to us whether we can keep these things in check and build a better world even amidst all of that; to do that we need something worth fighting for.
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