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Resolved: “Europe’s Green surge matters more than the rise of the far right”


That is the admittedly debatable position espoused — with impressive, if lonely, logic — by Martin Sandbau, Economics Commentator at The Financial Times 


Still, he may be on to something. Something epic, in Europe, the U.S. and well beyond:


“When future generations look back on the political upheavals of the last few years … most will have forgotten the crumbling two-party system of social democrats and mainstream conservatives that dominated the western democracies since the 19th century.”


He is referring, primarily, to the political parties of Europe over that time. And he’s betting heavily on the momentum generated by last month’s European elections that saw Greens parties “scale new heights across northwestern Europe … This Green wave gives parties making climate change their top priority a strong hand at the European level and in the national politics of more than half the EU’s populations. Enormous consequences hinge on how they yield that influence.”


Mr. Sandbau believes that the future potency of the Greens’ central policy – called a “just transition” to a low-carbon economy – will cause tremors, and possibly even demise, for the established geopolitical order. Rationale: “That is because environmental policy lands right in the middle of the fault line between those who support and those who oppose liberal democracy and the rules-based international order.”


A heavy lift. But not easily dismissed. The Greens answer to critics, especially  those from the left: “The Greens are alert to this challenge”; according to Mr. Sandbau, their central strategy: “combine carbon pricing and similar taxes with radical redistribution to favour the vulnerable.”



In the U.S. the climate change issue is rapidly becoming a central element in the already-launched

2020 presidential campaign.


The concept of a “Green New Deal”- in various iterations, but essentially pursuing environmental sustainability with massive public infrastructure investment – appears to be getting traction among Americans. And it may well be a central element for an emerging Democratic Party 2020 platform.

“The Green New Deal Has Already Won”


The New York Times: “Democratic pollsters say that in surveys and focus groups, climate change often emerges as the second most important issue to the party’s primary voters, following health care — a departure from previous presidential campaign cycles when the environment was sometimes an afterthought.”


 The Republican Party, burdened with President Trump’s characterization of climate change as a “hoax”, is currently on its back foot in responding to a broadening base of interest in the issue.


It may be no surprise that many millennials and members of the “X generation” — demographic “inheritors of the earth”– have a special interest in addressing climate change. But more impressive, perhaps, is the recent wave of support for action in the international business community. Leaders in corporate management and investment alike are stirring into action.


Among recent relevant headlines:


“Companies See Climate Change Hitting Their Bottom Lines in the Next Five Years” 


“Europe leads $31tn charge on sustainable investing” 


Mr. Sandbu is well aware of how his prophecy “represent[s] huge policy transformations”:

“A carbon dividend would radically change the way we use tax systems, essentially combining drastic tax increases on carbon use with a universal basic income. A Green New Deal worth its salt would require a regime change in terms of governments’ willingness to invest.


“This is a tall order but a just climate transition requires nothing less. If anyone can achieve it, it is Europe’s Green parties (directly or by encouraging bigger parties to steal their policies). If they do, they will have changed world history, defeating both the ecological and political threats to liberal capitalism.”


A very tall order. Still …