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“The carbon economy amplifies racial, social and economic inequities, creating a system that is fundamentally incompatible with a stable future,” says a recent opinion piece in The Guardian. The article highlights an open letter by over 100 economists calling for a green recovery that will replace the carbon economy.

“As the undersigned experts in economics, we call on our policymakers to recognize the role that meaningful climate action has to play in rebuilding our world – to recognise that a healthy economy and society require a healthy planet.”

End Carbon Economy and Save The World

To Save Our World, We Must End The Carbon Economy, Below2C

(This article was first published in Common Dreams.)

Leaders in the field — including a Nobel Laureate and former Sec. of Labor — urge divestment, active phaseout, and understanding of connection between racism, COVID-19, and climate

On Tuesday, August 4th The Guardian published an open letter entitled “To Rebuild our World, End the Carbon Economy,” signed by over 100 economists. The statement, notable for its bold prescription of climate action aimed at ending fossil fuel reliance, was signed by leading experts in the field, including Jeff Sachs and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia, Mariana Mazzucato of UCL, Darrick Hamilton of OSU, Dani Rodrik of Harvard, Gernot Wagner of NYU, and former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich of UC Berkeley.

“I’m very pleased to see economists speaking out forcefully on just climate policy,” said signatory Juliet Schor, an economist and sociologist at Boston College. “As the country nears a serious climate problem, economists’ opportunity to shape the debate has never been greater.”

The letter, which illustrates the extent to which economists are increasingly shifting their thinking on climate policy towards bolder and more progressive solutions, makes the case that as governments around the world create policy that will reverberate for years to come, they must take the opportunity to invest in a just and decarbonized future. “As a young person, I am scared that my country’s leaders will try to recover from one crisis while investing in the next,” said Connor Chung, an organizer with Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, one of several student climate justice groups involved with organizing the letter. “Today’s statement helps us separate false solutions from the bold action we need to ensure a just and stable future that so many of my peers are fighting for.”

Three axes of changes

The economists called for three axes of changes that are necessary to take on the carbon economy:

  • Governments must actively phase out the fossil fuel industry,
  • Institutions of financial power must end their fossil fuel investments and funding, and
  • People must build political power to advocate for a fairer economic system.

The prescriptions, which depart significantly from the sort of fossil fuel industry-approved policies which are often seen as dominating economic discourse, are centered around the idea that the present moment “gives us the rare opportunity to reimagine” an economy rooted in deep inequities.

The letter is one of the first statements of its size from the field of economics that underscores the connections between the simultaneous crises of climate change, systemic racism, economic devastation, and the spread of COVID-19, explicitly viewing the climate crisis through a lens of environmental justice. “It is Black people in America, for instance, who bear some of the highest rates of exposure to polluted air,” the statement reads. “The carbon economy amplifies and begets racial, social, and economic inequities, creating a system that is fundamentally incompatible with a stable future.”

“At a time when available investment resources should be massively targeted to green energy, injecting capital to fund even more fossil fuels extraction is unjustifiable,” said signatory Gabriel Zucman, an economist at UC Berkeley known for his research on wealth inequality. “As the younger generations have well understood, immediate divestment is an economic and moral imperative.”

The pandemic provides rare opportunity

“As much as the present moment painfully underscores the weaknesses of our economic system, it also gives us the rare opportunity to reimagine it,” the academics wrote in an open letter this week. “As we seek to rebuild our world, we can and must end the carbon economy.”

Moving into the social, economic and political unknowns of the near future, this statement will help decision makers understand the imperative of rapidly ending the carbon economy as they rebuild better systems. “The pandemic provides us the opportunity to create a modern, just, sustainable economy by replacing carbon energy with clean energy, by reducing inequality and caring for the well-being of people and the planet,” said signatory Clair Brown, renowned UC Berkeley scholar of labor and technological economics whose early work focused on race and gender inequities in labor. “The climate crisis has shed light on how inequality hurts people, and how a sustainable equitable economy makes people healthier and happier. We must not miss this opportunity to rebuild the economy to fulfill our vision of a just and livable world.”

The letter has been signed by more than 100 economists. You can see the list of signatories here.

Related articles….
The Stranded Asset Parade Is Starting
From the COVID Frying Pan Into the Climate Fire
The Greed of the Oil Giants Is a Total Betrayal of the Future

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License

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  1. Considering,
    That the emancipation of the productive class is that of all human beings without distinction of sex or so-called “racial difference”;
    That the producers can be free only when they are in possession of the means of production;
    That there are only two forms under which the means of production can belong to them
    The individual form which has never existed in a general state and which is increasingly eliminated by industrial progress;
    The collective form the material and intellectual elements of which are constituted by the very development of capitalist society;
    That this collective appropriation can arise only from the revolutionary action of the productive class – or workers – organized in a distinct political party;
    That a such an organisation must be pursued by all the means the working class has at its disposal including universal suffrage which will thus be transformed from the instrument of deception that it has been until now into an instrument of emancipation;
    The Australian workers, in adopting as the aim of their efforts the political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class and the return to community of all the means of production so that the community can have the power to live in harmony with Nature and establish equal political power between all human beings, have decided, as a means of organisation and struggle, to enter the elections with the following immediate demands:
    1. All individuals, companies, banks, institutions and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels.
    2. Abolition of all laws over the press, meetings and associations.
    3. Suppression of the public debt.
    4. Legislated reduction of the working day to four hours.
    5. Protective supervision of apprentices by the workers’ organisations.
    6. Increase in funds allocated to the Age Pension with 55 being the age of eligibility.
    7. Abolition of all indirect taxes and transformation of all direct taxes into a progressive tax on incomes over $60,000. An increase of the company tax to 49% (where it was in 1987).
    8. Construction of social housing with the goal of eliminating the waiting list by December, 2022.
    9. Universal bulk billing for healthcare.
    10. Free public education through university and TAFE for all citizens.
    11. Abolition of standing armies and the general arming of the people;
    12. The Community to be master of its administration and its police.
    13. Responsibility of the bosses in the matter of accidents, guaranteed by a security paid by the employer into the workers’ funds, and in proportion to the number of workers employed and the danger that the industry presents;
    14. Intervention by the workers in the special regulations of the various workshops; an end to the right usurped by the bosses to impose any penalty on their workers in the form of fines or withholding of wages.

    • Mike – welcome to Below2C.

      You’re involved in a massive undertaking which is up against 100 years of industrial and corporate takeover of all aspects of society, the economy and the political mainstream. I’m interested in feedback from other viewers of the article.

      Thank you for your comments/feedback.

  2. Fossil fuels have and will continue to be the foundations of economic growth, taking millions out of poverty and a subsistence existence. China and India are prime examples of this and are ramping up the building of coal-fired power stations as we speak.

    De-carbonising world economies is a fantasy. Renewable sources will never be able to compete with fossil fuels.

    More to the point, there is no convincing evidence that the clean use of fossil fuels, by which I mean the removal of real pollutants, which excludes those essential, life-supporting substances carbon dioxide and water, will have any significant impact on the different global climates.

    Organisations like Below2C, 350, Extinction Rebellion* and The Climate Mobilization* are promoting the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CACC) Hypothesis as simply a means to achieving their real objectives – replacing the economic and political systems that have made and are making life more comfortable for most of us in the developed and developing world with their own version of “democracy” (in XR’s case – anarchy).

    * See more on these in “SpotlightON: Extinction Rebellion .. “(

    • I’ve approved your post so that my readers can see how people like you are still drinking the denial kool aid. No wonder humanity is in such peril. Anyone who uses the phrase “clean us of fossil fuels” has a major credibility problem.


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