Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

There is no alternative. To rebuild the global economy, to prepare for the next pandemic, to confront the climate crisis, we have no choice: we need a Global Green New Deal. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

There is no alternative. To rebuild the global economy, to prepare for the next pandemic, to confront the climate crisis, we have no choice: we need a Global Green New Deal. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

Why We Need a Global Green New Deal Right Now

The rules of the global economy got us into this mess. But rules can change.

Michael Galant

 by OtherWords

The global economy is collapsing. When the pandemic began, experts at the International Monetary Fund predicted that we would see the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This week, they announced that it will be even worse than they thought.

This disaster comes into a world already facing record inequality, desperate poverty, and a growing climate crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a precarious world economy over the edge. This moment offers a rare opportunity to rethink the path that led us here and chart a new course out: a Global Green New Deal.

We have a tendency to treat the global economy as something natural—beyond our control.

We may understand that poverty, epidemics, and environmental destruction within the United States are not inevitable. There are certain rules in place that benefit some over others. People are not poor because they fail to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. People are poor because wages are too low, because we don’t invest in public goods, because the wealthy are too powerful.

There is no alternative. To rebuild the global economy, to prepare for the next pandemic, to confront the climate crisis, we have no choice: we need a Global Green New Deal.

But when it comes to the world economy, we forget. We forget that there are rules that determine how it all works. We forget that these rules were created not by God but by man. We forget that they can be changed.

The current rules are actually rather new. Born out of the financial crisis of the 1970s, these mirrored on the global level what Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were doing at home—crushing labor unions, slashing environmental protections, and empowering corporations.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund lent recklessly to poor countries, saddling them with debt and imposing deregulation, austerity, and labor suppression. Trade agreements like the infamous NAFTA set corporations free to search the world for profits without added protection for workers or the environment.

Nations were forced into a competitive "race to the bottom" in wages, taxes, and regulations in an attempt to lure desperately needed investment. Multinational corporations began to outsource jobs to countries where wages were lower and environmental regulations lax—and outsource profits to a shadowy network of tax havens.

The suppression of worker power deepened inequality. The decimation of environmental standards fueled the climate crisis. Decades of budget-slashing left us all unprepared to confront a pandemic. The rules that govern the world economy were not inevitable. They were intentional, and they led us to where we are today.

To escape the global recession and build a more resilient world on the other side, we need to rewrite the rules. We need a system of trade that puts workers and the environment before corporate profits. We need enforceable global floors on wages, labor laws, and environmental protections. We need global coordination to end the scourge of tax havens, debt relief for countries in crisis, and massive global redistribution.

In short, we need a Global Green New Deal.

This ambitious agenda will be hard to achieve. But if there was ever a time for big change, it is now. It was after the devastation of World War II that the United Nations was born. It was from the recessions of the 1970’s that the latest world order emerged. It is out of a catastrophe as profound as COVID-19 that a new trail can be forged.

When Margaret Thatcher was setting the world on course to the present crisis, she had a slogan: "There is no alternative." For too long, we believed it.

Now, there’s reason for the phrase to come back into use: There is no alternative. To rebuild the global economy, to prepare for the next pandemic, to confront the climate crisis, we have no choice: we need a Global Green New Deal.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Michael Galant

Michael Galant

Michael Galant is the Sr. Communications Associate at Win Without War, a diverse network of activists and organizations working for a more progressive U.S. foreign policy. Follow him on Twitter: @michael_galant

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Parents Demand Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 'For the Sake of the Children'

"We cannot remain silent as the fossil fuel industry and world leaders rob our children of a livable future," parents from 32 nations wrote in an open letter.

Brett Wilkins ·


'We Can Do Better' Than Biden's Paltry Student Debt Relief Plan, Says AOC

The president's approach, said the New York Democrat, is "just enough to anger the people against it *and* the people who need forgiveness the most."

Julia Conley ·


Right-Wing Supreme Court Poised to Make US Gun Carnage Even Worse

The U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority could soon "obliterate even the mildest of gun regulations in service of its gun lobby masters."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Enough Is Enough!': Thousands Protest Outside NRA Convention in Texas

"I'm just tired of the NRA subordinating children's rights for gun rights," said one gun lobby opponent just three days after the school massacre in Uvalde.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Manchin of the House' Kurt Schrader Officially Defeated in Oregon Primary

"This win proves that voters are hungry for leaders who will fight for working families, not billionaires and Big Pharma," said one group that backed progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo