People’s Green New Deal Platform

Today the world faces the existential crisis of climate change. The catastrophic effects of man-made climate change are already visible and will only accelerate until mass collective action at all levels — from the local to the global — forces a radical shift in direction. These effects are felt unevenly. People and countries in the Global South face climate catastrophe at a higher rate because of colonialism and imperialism. Even in the Global North, it is oppressed and working class communities that are affected the most, from power plants being placed in communities of color to pipelines going through Indigenous land to those exploited working class people who are forced to work in the fossil fuel industry. At the core of the problem is capitalism, based on the principle of infinite growth through unbridled production, consumption, and environmental devastation, which is propelling the current ecological crisis. A system driven by competition for ever-expanding profits is incapable of responding quickly and fully enough to meet this crisis. Market-based reforms aimed at making superficial changes to this system are not solutions.

The primary task of our time must be to build the kind of mass movement needed to radically alter the present slide toward global disaster — a movement engaged in campaigns for immediate reforms, but guided by a radical strategic outlook of creating a sustainable eco-socialist future. All our demands and reform initiatives must keep an eye on that prize. Future generations depend on it. 

This document is both narrow and broad in scope and by no means covers all the issues that People’s Green New Deal Madison believes in or struggles for. We attempt to look at the international picture while presenting campaigns and demands for our local community. We must always look internationally, as both climate and capitalism do not follow the arbitrary rules of national borders. Ultimately we believe in fighting for an eco-socialist future that puts people and the planet ahead of profit. We will only be able to do this with a massive popular movement. 
As a part of fighting for anti-capitalist system change we stand in solidarity with Indigenous struggles and look to traditions of reciprocity with the nonhuman world as guides to future production and consumption. Our movement must be one that is open to learning from a diversity of liberatory traditions and must educate others not only about immediate goals and movement strategies but about the future of our relations with the natural world.

Renewable Energy for All

The most urgent priority for humanity is to stop adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Solar and wind technologies are here and getting better all the time. A renewable mix can cover our power needs. But this task requires a huge investment beyond any of our individual means. Any number of well-meaning people can add solar panels to their homes, but we can’t transition fully to renewables without an overhaul of our power grid. For-profit power companies will not make this investment because it will not increase the next quarter’s profits for their investors. The best they can offer is “greenwashing” and promises that the next generation of investors will do better. Fossil fuel companies will try to block this investment to protect their own interests or try to extract profit from its implementation while weakening the project at the same time. Only a powerful and organized people’s movement, coordinated on an international scale, will be able to overcome these obstacles. This is a problem anyone can understand, and we are working to build this movement. 

As a central part of this transition, we should also establish democratic control over power generation and distribution. If this is a collective investment from the people, why should investors control how it is spent? Publicly controlled power already benefits consumers in our current system, both in price and accountability. For-profit MG&E is one of the most expensive power providers in the country. On the west coast, for-profit PG&E has made the people suffer  enormous wildfires, just so the wealthy can skim a few more dollars off the top.

We call on the City of Madison, Dane County, and the state of Wisconsin to:

  • Achieve 100% carbon neutral power generation by 2030.
  • Establish local democratic control over the means of power generation.
  • Ensure a just transition and jobs guarantee for current fossil fuel industry workers.

Free Public Transportation for All

Traffic is the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. What’s more, the infrastructure we devote to car traffic robs our cities of green space for people to occupy and enjoy, pollutes the air, and endangers pedestrians and cyclists every day. Reducing people’s reliance on personal motor vehicles is a crucial step towards saving the planet and has the added benefit of making cities cleaner and safer and restoring land to nature and people instead of cars.

However, we cannot pretend that our current car culture is a matter of personal choice. Public transportation is currently insufficient in our city, state, and in places around the country. We need free, high-quality public transportation that enables all people to navigate their day-to-day lives without the use of a personal vehicle. This means dramatically improving and expanding current service so that taking public transportation is feasible for a majority of workers and families. We envision a future in which buses, light rail, and high speed rail take the place of a vast majority of car trips. We believe this future should be funded by the individuals who profit most from people’s ability to travel from place to place – our employers. We are opposed to regressive tax schemes when corporations should foot the bill for fast, dignified public transportation.

We believe that high-quality public transportation should be supplemented with a free bike share program, safer cycling infrastructure, and improved, highly accessible pedestrian infrastructure. In Madison, a city on an Isthmus that will likely continue to experience severe flooding as a result of climate change, it is short sighted to continue to design our growing city for car traffic.

We call on the City of Madison, Dane County, and the state of Wisconsin to:

  • Provide free, fast public transportation for all Madisonians. We want free, high-quality public transportation that would enable the vast majority of Madison residents to utilize Metro Transit for daily commutes. 
  • Expand public transportation throughout and beyond Wisconsin. Connect communities throughout the state by expanding and improving existing transit options. Create new regional connections between cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis through such projects as the high speed rail project that was thwarted by Governor Scott Walker. 
  • Defund highway, road expansion. Studies have proven conclusively that more lanes only leads to more traffic, increasing emissions and devouring funding we need to transition to a new way of traveling.
  • Repeal Madison’s wheel tax and adopt more just funding for public transportation. A regressive wheel tax is not the path to environmental justice. A robust public transportation system benefits businesses, who need workers and consumers to commute to their sites. Property owners reap the benefit of added value to their property based on its proximity to public transportation. Landlords do not hesitate to count close proximity to public transportation as an amenity for which they can charge tenants more. These entities should shoulder the cost of a world-class transportation system. 
  • Push employers to offer more telecommuting options. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that we can dramatically cut the number of daily commutes if workers are allowed to work from home. Employers whose workers can work remotely should give them the option to do so long-term in order to reduce the number of car trips occurring in our city. All workers should have a safe work environment of their choosing.

A Right to a Green Job

Green jobs are popularly defined as those that are geared toward a zero-emissions economy, that develop key sectors such as energy efficiency, wind, and solar. The need for humane working conditions, living wages, and training programs is also often part of the dialogue. People’s Green New Deal Madison recognizes the importance of these reforms and works to build alliances with everyone toward a green economy.

Less often discussed, however, is the question of workers’ power and how these reforms can be achieved and sustained.

Capitalism cannot exist without constantly expanding. It does this without respecting the limits of ecosystems and without regard for the well-being of human and non-human communities. This expansion is only possible by endlessly increasing the rate of exploitation of workers and the theft of public and Indigenous lands.

To check this power we need to democratize the workplace through union bargaining power and eventually through collective management of industry, from micro-level workplace planning through international coordination. Our transition toward a green economy must be accomplished without further disadvantaging the working class. We assert that developing nations and historically oppressed communities will require a greater immediate influx of resources and should be in control of how they are used. We support reform efforts by union members that aim to strengthen internal trade union democracy.

Finally, we envision a fundamental cultural shift in what kinds of work are socially valued and how they are compensated, organized, and reproduced. The most humane and dynamic way to shrink our ecological footprint will be shifting investments away from expanding productivity and toward the care and enrichment of humans, animals, and ecosystems.

We call on the City of Madison, Dane County, and the State of Wisconsin to:

  • Repeal Act 10 and Right-to-Work legislation. Restore and extend full bargaining rights to all workers.
  • Extend the right to strike to all workers and abolish “Management Rights”.
  • Provide a just compensation for all forms of labor, usually referred to as a “living wage”. We demand the following:
    • Align the minimum wage with and peg it to the rate of production (currently $24 per hour according to the Center for Economic & Policy Research).
    • Ensure all workers have adequate sick leave, personal days, and paid vacation.
    • Provide wages for reproductive labor including housework, child care, care for the elderly and disabled.
  • Enforce workplace safety including access to all necessary PPE.
  • Extend the welfare state to provide for any lack of work temporarily created in the transition to a green economy. 

Fighting Environmental Racism and Promoting Environmental Justice

Climate change and environmental degradation impact us all, but these effects are distributed very disproportionately. Many of the worst environmental harms are intentionally pushed onto already marginalized groups, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and poor and working class people.

We are the Socialist Feminist Working Group of the Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America. We are organizing for a world without gender injustice, racial oppression, sexual persecution, or capitalism.At the heart of this is capitalism. The ruling class, which is largely white, prioritizes profits through practices which both directly and indirectly harm people of color and the earth. This legacy of environmental racism began in the U.S. with the genocide and theft of Indigenous land, and continues today with BIPOC bearing the brunt of ongoing environmental degradation and the worst effects of climate change. Through intentional racist practices such as redlining and divestment from communities of color, BIPOC have systematically been forced into substandard living conditions, often located near high levels of air and water pollution, which severely impacts the health and quality of life of these communities.

We believe that climate justice cannot be accomplished without centering environmental justice, because those most harmed by environmental impacts must be prioritized and have a leading role in shaping a just future on this planet. The harms placed on BIPOC and working class people need to be addressed, and these communities must be given a seat at the table.

We call on the City of Madison, Dane County, and the State of Wisconsin to:

  • Provide just housing for all that is high-quality and safe from lead and other environmental contaminants. Housing is a human right.
  • Give BIPOC communities resources and direct control over environmental and public policy decision making, planning, and implementation.
  • Provide free health care for all.
  • Remove the National Guard base and end the project that would bring new F-35 fighter jets to Truax. National Guard activity has already resulted in PFAS contamination of the nearby area, including Starkweather Creek, which connects to Lake Monona. These jets, and the expansion of the base, would cause severe noise pollution, increased levels of ground and water contamination of PFAS, and elevated CO2 emissions, all of which would disproportionately harm neighboring communities of color.
  • Decriminalize protest. AB 426 is an expansion of a law passed in 2015, which made it a felony to interrupt or impair services provided by an energy company. This law should be overturned. People have the right to defend their land, environment, and health.
  • Give Indigenous land back. Dane County and the City of Madison must have a working relationship with the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. The four lakes region has been known as Teejope since time immemorial by the Ho-Chunk people. The federal and state government attempted to ethnically cleanse and remove the Ho-Chunk throughout the 1830s. The city and county must give the Ho-Chunk a seat at the table and work to give land back to the Nation. The co-management of the former Badger Ammunition Plant by the Ho-Chunk, DNR and USDA is an example for the city and county and look towards. We must do more than simply acknowledge our past, we must seek justice.

Stop Environmental Degradation

The history of the founding of Wisconsin and White settlement is one of environmental degradation. The early settlers and land speculators paved the way to remove Indigenous Peoples from a sustainable relationship with their surroundings. Indigenous Nations throughout Wisconsin from the Anishinaabe to the Ho-Chunk to the Menominee were and still are caretakers of the lands despite numerous attempted removals. 

Capitalism, which drives us towards the commodification of everything, intentionally severed the relationship between humans and the environment. This degradation has continued to show itself with the pollution of the Great Lakes and the Yahara River watershed in Dane County. People of color and the working class continue to be disproportionately impacted by this destruction. 

Healing the planet is ultimately about creating infrastructures of caretaking that will replace infrastructures of capitalism. Capitalism is contrary to life. Caretaking promotes life and should be central to all our policies. 

With less than ten years to adopt radical solutions to solve our climate change crisis, we call upon Dane County and the City of Madison to declare a climate emergency and begin immediate work to mitigate our climate disaster while centering racial justice. 

We call on the City of Madison, Dane County, and the State of Wisconsin to:

  • Declare a Climate Emergency. Climate, caretaking and justice should be central to every policy question from budgets to infrastructure to development. This must include the city, county and state to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
  • Clean up the lakes. Implement natural stormwater management techniques. The lakes are at an artificially high level to better accommodate wealthy lakefront property owners. This high level was one of the reasons we had our own “100 year flood”. Dane County must begin immediate co-study with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources into how we can lower the lakes of the Lower Yahara Watershed back to their natural levels. 
  • Stop the building of all fossil fuel-based pipelines. Recently Migihcan’s Governor Whitmer has called on Enbridge Line 5 to be decommissioned but Enbridge is challenging that effort to the dismay of Indigenous Nations and environmentalists. At the same time we have also seen the advancements of Enbridge Line 3 that runs from the Tar Sands through Annishinabe treaty land in northern Minnesota ending in Superior, Wisconsin. We call on the state to respect treaty rights and fight against Line 3 and others such as Line 61 and 66 that perpetuate the usage of fossil fuels and trample on Indigenous sovereignty. 
  • Habitat destruction must be halted at once. The destruction of the wetlands and other natural habitats are leading to mass extinction of species driving pandemics and compounding the difficulties of restoring ecological balance. We must expand the urban forest canopy and buy back excess farm land to restore forests and prairies centering the use of Indigenous knowledge.
  • More funding for public spaces. This includes more funds to parks and other green spaces through the city especially in BIPOC communities. In addition we call on universal free public access and control of the lakefront property to be enjoyed by all. Cities such as Milwaukee have successfully done this. 

US Imperialism

To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., the US is ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.’ As such, any strategy toward a sustainable global economy must address military and economic competition and domination. Through wars for oil and other natural resources, hundreds of military bases around the world, and US-dominated financial institutions, our government spearheads a genocidal global system of extraction, exploitation, and the intensional underdevelopment of nations in pursuit of profit and hegemony.

We must confront the fact that the US ruling class has consumed the greatest amount of fossil fuels and benefits the most this system. Workers and oppressed communities in the US have more in common with our counterparts in other nations than we do with the US government and corporate rulers. We stand in solidarity with everyone everywhere who resists empire.

We fight for a world without borders. The division of the world into nations, confronting one another across arbitrary frontiers, allows for the special oppression of displaced peoples by withholding the rights and protections associated with citizenship. Corporations use borders to avoid labor and environmental regulations and to shelter offshore profits. The intensification of the climate crisis will continue driving mass migrations of refugees.

The climate policy most representative of our lawmakers is to close off our borders and get as much as we can while we still can, then defend it with violence. We must reject this zero-sum thinking and react to disasters and meet refugees with solidarity, making up for our current unfair advantages.

We call on representatives in the United States Congress to:

  • Bring the troops home NOW! from wars that have lasted a generation, and show leadership by defunding war.
  • Share vital green technologies and do more than our share to tip the world toward carbon neutrality.
  • Base technologies on green policies. Ensure that green technologies and other vital goods are not based on the current international system of exploitation and imperialist extraction.
  • Abolish ICE and prepare to welcome climate refugees as needed.

And our city government to: 

  • Reject any collaboration with ICE.
  • Establish Madison as a sanctuary city.