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The Green New Deal has become a political buzz phrase. After a decade of obscurity, the far-reaching climate proposal was catapulted back onto the political agenda with the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to US Congress in 2018. 

After several decades of climate summits, carbon budgets, and self-imposed non-binding targets, the Green New Deal proposes a new, all encompassing solution to the climate crisis. 

Given the primacy of the United States in international politics, the concept of a Green New Deal has naturally been discussed across the globe. In fact, the concept of a Global Green New deal was first put forward a decade ago. So what are its prospects in Australia and Indonesia?

What is the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal proposes a ten year mobilisation of resources in order to effectively combat the triple crises facing capitalist economies; climate change, social inequality, and the financial crisis brought about by poor lending practices, and unregulated amounts of credit. A Green New Deal seeks to transition society towards a greener future, through systemic changes, whereby the state invests considerable resources into renewable energy, and the transformation of all sectors of the economy. 

The proposal is based upon the similar economic policies of the 1930s, with Roosevelt’s New Deal economic policies helping America recover effectively from the Great Depression. Rather than the status quo of non-binding emissions targets and climate summits, the Green New Deal seeks to simultaneously address social inequalities, and environmental degradation, integrating a low carbon approach into all areas of government policy.

The Green New Deal was first proposed in 2007, and built upon by a group of London based economists in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. After a ten year hiatus, the election of Ocasio-Cortez has brought the proposal back onto the agenda. 

The current Green New Deal in the US aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, and create millions of high paying jobs in the process, through a jobs guarantee. This, in turn, addresses social inequality, by giving oppressed groups the financial means to improve their quality of life.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at the launch of the Green New Deal. Picture: Senate Democrats

Green New Deal in Indonesia?

Whilst Indonesia is yet to commit to a Green New Deal, its Low Carbon Development Initiative proposal shares many Green New Deal aspirations. The proposal was developed by the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning, and proposes three low carbon development models, with the most ambitious of the three involving a 25 year strategy towards a ‘Golden Indonesia’ in 2045.

Whilst this falls short of the 10 year mobilisation proposed under the US Green New Deal, the proposal involves carbon pricing mechanisms, an abolition of deforestation, and zero-carbon transport, thus having a ‘Green New Deal Level of ambition’. 

With President Joko Widodo seeking to establish carbon pricing, the declaration of Bali as a clean energy province, and a significant decline in deforestation, The Jakarta Post argues that a Green New Deal is a ‘feasible dream’ in Indonesia.

In the context of  global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been felt strongly across South East Asia, a recent article in The Diplomat argued for a recovery which integrates sustainable technology into economic stimulus. Whilst noting the impact of the fossil fuel industry in a coal exporting country like Indonesia, the article highlighted the vast solar and wind potential in Indonesia.

Whilst Indonesia remains a coal exporting nation, the level of ambition present in the Low Carbon Development Initiative renders a Green New Deal achievable.

A Green New Deal aims to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Picture: Pixabay

Green New Deal in Australia?

Australian political party The Greens have called for a Green New Deal in Australia, arguing that Australia needs a ‘bold plan of action’ to address carbon emissions, inequality and unemployment. The party aims to quit coal by 2030, in conjunction with the 10 year timeframe of America’s Green New Deal. 

Despite the level of ambition present in the proposal put forward by The Greens, the Coalition government’s recent federal budget allocated four times more funding to the fossil fuels sector than it did to the clean energy sector.

Rather than a renewable energy led recovery, the government has prioritised coal fired power, and is seeking a gas led transition away from fossil fuels.

Despite the current resistance to a green led recovery from the pandemic, many in Australia are calling for a marked increase in renewable energy. A recent survey found that more than ¾ of Australian company directors are in favour of large scale investment in renewable energy. After last summer’s devastating bushfire season, many Australians are starting to see the urgency of climate action. 

In both Australia and Indonesia, the appetite for a more sustainable future exists, with Green New Deal proposals or similar existing in both countries. Whilst considerable barriers remain, Indonesia in particular has taken steps towards a Green New Deal level of climate ambition.