Our current economy doesn’t reflect the values of our species, defining abundance as monetary wealth alone. It’s a system based on hierarchy, putting humans above other beings (and above each other, depending on privilege) and the natural world.
To change our economy, we must change its form. Moving away from linear to circular models, and becoming inclusive of every ‘thing’ and everyone.
When we talk about the Green New Deal, we often forget it is an economic plan, one that is designed to produce abundance for every person, every life form and every aspect of nature upon which we depend.
To understand the issues of our current economy, and the Green Party’s solutions, we first have to understand GDP (gross domestic product).
What is GDP?
After the Great Depression government, academia, and businesses rightly stepped forward, intending to create better metrics for tracking market behaviour. Their hope was to build a system which would prevent the deep devastation the crash caused from happening again.
What they created was a system measured by GDP (gross domestic product) which gives value to goods produced by a place in a specific time period.
The problem is, that the strength of GDP is rooted in the idea of infinite economic growth, which can only be achieved through constant consumption.
Infinite growth also overlooks the fact that every ingredient required for every product our species produces comes from resources belonging to the earth. When we devour these resources without regenerating what was taken to maintain balance, the natural world becomes depleted. This endangers all life on earth.
The GDP system measures “everything except that which makes life worthwhile”, excluding the value of unpaid household and volunteer work and discounting the cost of pollution, depletion of resources, and the consequences of unfair wealth inequality.
Thus, it is essential that in this decade of climate action, we dismantle this system and replace it with one that centres environmental, social and economic regneration. One the supports and cares for everyone, including the most vulnerable. This leads us to The Green Party’s plan for local, national, and global regeneration.
What is The Green Party’s plan for economic reformation?
The Green Party’s ‘Green New Deal’ is an economic plan created in response to the financial crash of 2008.
Its main purpose is to transition us away from the current consumption-based and fossil-fuel reliant economy and towards an economy which includes and considers the needs of all living beings, including the planet.
The Green New Deal creates a circular economy (read an explainer on the circular economy here), similar to the idea of ‘Doughnut Economics’ popularised by Oxford Economics Professor, Kate Raworth.
This plan creates an economy which respects the boundaries of the earth, and honours the intersection of social, economic and climate justice, ensuring everyone has access to essentials such as food, housing, healthcare, clean air, and clean water.
How do we create abundant local economies?
The Green New Deal (and The Green Party itself) gives economic value to the things which enhance community wellbeing and community ownership of the economy. Redefining abundance to measure what makes our lives better through fostering community wellness and belonging.
In the same way as the just transition must be led by workers themselves, having aspects of our collective economy which are community-led and community-controlled ensures that those who feel the effects of economic decisions are included in the decision making itself.
Throughout the UK there are thousands of projects which exemplify this type of thinking. Whether it is a sharing economy, like the library of things which advocates sharing over buying. A shorter work week and Universal Basic Income, which makes time for the things that create a sense of belonging like volunteering, caregiving, and community projects. Community-owned food initiatives which enhance food sovereignty. Or community-owned energy sources which make life more affordable for everyone, and puts users in charge.
Within the economic structure of the Green New Deal, all aspects of abundance are valued and recognised economically. Giving power to measurements of ‘Gross Domestic Happiness’ as well.
We can help create resilient communities where we live by shopping regionally and locally. For every pound we spend at a locally owned business, we create local jobs and local wealth.
Whether it is where you grab your to-go coffee, your food, your clothing, your beauty products or your household repairs, keeping money local matters. Empowering local people and local businesses breaks up financial monocultures, enhances equality, and creates a more diverse economic system that protects individuals.
Another interesting tactic which helps shift behaviour towards supporting local businesses, is local currencies. While these funds are most often linked to the pound, they have some incredible benefits to the community economy. In the UK, there are local currencies in Brixton, Bristol, Cardiff, Cornwall, Exeter, Kingston, Lewes, Liverpool, Plymouth, Stroud, Totnes, and Worcester.
Each one runs differently. Some currencies can be earned through volunteering and used to pay council tax, while others, like the Brixton Pound, put 1.5% of each transaction into a Brixton Fund. This fund is used to give micro-grants to local projects and community groups, supporting their self-created credit network which allows businesses to exchange credit in the form of loans that are neutralised within the network, empowering local businesses to create local abundance.
While buying local and regional and supporting your community is important, a local economy requires a political party to tilt the landscape of policy in favour of local businesses. This is why it is so important to get Greens in local seats, to implement policy and funding to support those making change on the ground.
By supporting The Green Party you can empower a plan for local and national economic reformation, creating a path which betters life for all.
What can we do to support economics of abundance in our communities?
- LEARN about alternative economic models like Doughnut Economics
- SUPPORT local businesses
- DIVEST from pension funds vested in fossil fuels, talk to your employer if they are in charge of your fund (learn more about divestment here)
- INVEST your money with a bank that supports local co-operatives (learn more about ethical banking here)
- VOTE GREEN in your local election on May 7th