The Agro-Food Complex and Climate Change: Veganism or a Green New Deal?

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1799 ... April 5, 2019
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The Agro-Food Complex and Climate Change: Veganism or a Green New Deal?

Benjamin Selwyn

Humanity is standing on the brink of catastrophic climate change. The 2018 Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that "without societal transformation and rapid implementation of ambitious greenhouse gas reduction measures, pathways to limiting warming to 1.5°C and achieving sustainable development will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to achieve."

How can we begin to think about the societal transformations necessary to achieve these targets? Over the last year, two very different but increasingly popular and seemingly realistic solutions have emerged to address this question. The first is what can be labelled mainstream veganism; the second is the Green New Deal (GND). Both approaches are... based on a systemic understanding of the causes of climate change and argue for mass social participation in order to meet their objectives.

But despite the seemingly complementary appeal of the two approaches, they lead in fundamentally different political directions. In fact, mainstream veganism’s consumer-based strategy for change promises to squander the potential political energy generated by rising public disquiet about contemporary capitalism’s environmental death-spiral.

A socialist Green New Deal, on the other hand, could mobilize and channel this energy toward a successful challenge to carbon capitalism, whilst also delivering many of the stated objectives of mainstream veganism. Here’s why.

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