Green politics is a
political ideologywhich places a high importance on ecological and environmental goals, and on achieving these goals through broad-based, grassroots, participatory democracy. Green politics is advocated by supporters of the Green movement, which has been active through Green partiesin many nations since the early 1980s. The political term "Green", a translation of the German "Grün", was coined by die Grünen, the first successful Green party, formed in the late 1970s. The term "political ecology" is sometimes used in Europeand in academic circles.
Supporters of Green politics, called Greens, share many ideas with the ecology, conservation, environmental, feminist, and
peace movements. In addition to democracy and ecological issues, green politics is concerned with civil liberties, social justiceand nonviolence.
History and influences
Adherents to green politics tend to consider it to be part of a higher worldview and not simply a political ideology. Green politics draws its ethical stance from a variety of sources, from the values of
indigenous peoples, to the ethics of Mohandas Gandhi, Spinoza and Uexküll. These people influenced green thoughtin their advocacy of long-term "seventh generation" foresight, and on the personal responsibility of every individual to make moral choices.
Unease about adverse consequences of human actions on nature predates the modern concept of “environmentalism.” Social commentators as far apart as ancient
Romeand Chinacomplained of air, water and noise pollution. [Keys, David. "How Rome polluted the world," "Geographical", December 2003. http://www.geographical.co.uk/Home/index.html]
The philosophical roots of environmentalism can be traced back to enlightenment thinkers such as
Rousseauin Franceand, later, the author and naturalist Thoreauin America. Organised environmentalismbegan in late 19th Century Europe and the United Statesas a reaction to the Industrial Revolutionwith its emphasis on unbridled economic expansion. [McCormick, John. "The Global Environmental Movement" (London: John Wiley, 1995).]
“Green politics” first began as conservation movements; for example the
Sierra Club, founded in San Franciscoin 1892.
The problematic history of “eco-fascism” has been extensively analysed in
Germany, where the modern Green Partyfirst became established as an important political force. [cite news|first=Peter|last=Staudenmaier|title=Fascist Ecology: The 'Green Wing' of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents.|url=http://www.spunk.org/texts/places/germany/sp001630/peter.html|accessdate=2008-03-24] And there can be many superficial similarities between policies of Green parties and those of neo-fascist parties. [Biehl, Janet. "'Ecology' and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right." http://www.spunk.org/texts/places/germany/sp001630/janet.html]
Green platforms draw terminology from the science of
ecology, and policy from environmentalism, deep ecology, feminism, pacifism, anarchism, libertarian socialism, social democracy, eco-socialism, and social ecology. In the 1970s, as these movements grew in influence, green politics arose as a new philosophy which synthesized their goals.
In March of
1972the world's first green party, the United Tasmania Group, was formed at a public meeting in Hobart, Australia. In May 1972, a meeting at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, launched the " Values Party", the world's first countrywide green party to contest Parliamentary seats nationally. [ [http://www.greens.org.nz/about/history.htm Greens in Time and Space: The History of The Green Party ] ] A year later in 1973, Europe's first green party, the UK's Ecology Party, came into existence.
The German Green Party was not the first Green Party in Europe to have members elected nationally but the impression was created that they had been, because they attracted the most media attention: ~ The German Greens, contended in their first national election in
1980. The German Greens started as a provisional coalition of civic groups and political campaigns which, together, felt their interests were not expressed by the conventional parties. After contesting the 1979 Euro elections they held a conference which identified Four Pillars of the Green Partywhich all groups in the original alliance could agree as the basis of a common Party platform: welding these groups together as a single Party. This statement of principles has since been utilised by many Green Parties around the world. It was this party that first coined the term "Green" ("Grün" in German) and adopted the sunflowersymbol. In the 1983 federal election, the Greens won 27 seats in the Bundestag.
The first Canadian foray into green politics took place in the Maritimes when 11 independent candidates (including one in Montreal and one in Toronto) ran in the 1980 federal election under the banner of the Small Party. (Current Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May was the instigator and one of the candidates). Inspired by Schumacher's Small is Beautiful, the Small Party candidates ran for the expressed purpose of putting forward an anti-nuclear platform in that election. It was not registered as an official party, but some participants in that effort went on to form the Green Party of Canada in 1983 (the Ontario Greens and British Columbia Greens were also formed that year). [ http://www.greenparty.ca/en/about_us/our_history Brief note about the Small Party on Green Party of Canada website] ]
Finland, in 1995, the Green Leaguebecame the first European Green party to form part of a state-level Cabinet. The German Greens followed, forming a government with the Social Democratic Party of Germany(the " Red-Green Alliance") from 1998to 2005. In 2001, they reached an agreement to end reliance on nuclear powerin Germany, and agreed to remain in coalition and support the German government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröderin the 2001 Afghan War. This put them at odds with many Greens worldwide but demonstrated also that they were capable of difficult political tradeoffs.
tatements of principles
Since green politics emerged as an ideology, it has been defined by a few key green principles. The German Greens drafted the earliest statement of this kind, called the
Four Pillars of the Green Party. The Four Pillars have been repeated by many green parties worldwide as a foundational statement of the green ideology:
1984, the Green Committees of Correspondencein the United States expanded the Four Pillars into Ten Key Values which, in addition to the Four Pillars mentioned above, include:
*Post-patriarchal values (later translated to
Respect for diversity
In 2001, the
Global Greenswere organized as an international Green movement. The Global Greens Charteridentified six guiding principles:
*Respect for diversity
Green ideology emphasizes
participatory democracyand the principle of "thinking globally, acting locally." As such, the ideal Green Party is thought to grow from the bottom up, from neighborhood to municipal to (eco-)regional to national levels. The goal is rule by a consensus decision making process. Strong local coalitions are considered a pre-requisite to higher-level electoral breakthroughs. Historically, Green growth has been sparked by a single issue where Greens can bridge the gap to ordinary citizens' concerns. In Germany, for example, the Greens' early opposition to nuclear power won them their first successes in the federal elections.
There is a growing level of global cooperation between Green parties. Global gatherings of Green Parties now happen. The first Planetary Meeting of Greens was held May 30th-31st, in Rio de Janeiro, immediately preceding the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held there. More than 200 Greens from 28 nations attended. The first formal Global Greens Gathering took place in
Canberra, in 2001, with more than 800 Greens from 72 countries in attendance. The next Global Green Gathering will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, some time in 2008.
Global Green networking dates back to
1990. Following the Planetary Meeting of Greens in Rio de Janeiro, a Global Green Steering Committee was created, consisting of two seats for each continent. In 1993 this Global Steering Committee met in Mexico City and authorized the creation of a Global Green Network including a Global Green Calendar, Global Green Bulletin, and Global Green Directory. The Directory was issued in several editions in the next years. In 1996, 69 Green Parties from around the world signed a common declaration opposing French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, the first statement of global greens on a current issue. A second statement was issued in December 1997, concerning the Kyoto climate change treaty. [ [http://www.globalgreens.info/ggn_ggnbriefhistory.html Global Greens - A Brief History of the Global Green Network ] ]
At the 2001 Canberra Global Gathering delegates for Green Parties from 72 countries decided upon a
Global Greens Charterwhich proposes six key principles. Over time, each Green Party can discuss this and organize itself to approve it, some by using it in the local press, some by translating it for their web site, some by incorporating it into their manifesto, some by incorporating it into their constitution. [ [http://green.ca/english/members/constitution.shtml] ] This process is taking place gradually, with online dialogue enabling parties to say where they are up to with this process. [ [http://greenparties.hpg.ig.com.br/virtual.html hpG - O mundo é de quem faz - O maior conteúdo da internet ] ]
The Gatherings also agree on organizational matters. The first Gathering voted unanimously to set up the "Global Green Network" (GGN). The GGN is composed of three representatives from each Green Party. A companion organization was set up by the same resolution: "Global Green Coordination" (GGC). This is composed of three representatives from each Federation (Africa, Europe, The Americas, Asia/Pacific, see below). Discussion of the planned organization took place in several Green Parties prior to the Canberra meeting. [ [http://www.greens.org.au/bobbrown/global.htm] ] The GGC communicates chiefly by email. Any agreement by it has to be by unanimity of its members. It may identify possible global campaigns to propose to Green Parties world wide. The GGC may endorse statements by individual Green Parties. For example, it endorsed a statement by the US Green Party on the Israel-Palestine conflict. [ [http://www.greenpartyus.org/press/pr_04_10_02.html 04.10.02: Global Greens on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ] ]
Thirdly, Global Green Gatherings are an opportunity for informal networking, from which joint campaigning may arise. For example, a campaign to protect the
New Caledonian coral reef, by getting it nominated for World Heritage Status: a joint campaign by the New Caledonia Green Party, New Caldonian indigenous leaders, the French Green Party, and the Australian Greens. [PDFlink| [http://www.global.greens.org.au/spinifex-4.pdf] |523 KiB ] Another example concerns Ingrid Betancourt, the leader of the Green Party in Colombia, the Green Oxygen Party (" Partido Verde Oxigeno"). Ingrid Betancourt and the party's Campaign Manager, Claire Rojas, were kidnapped by a hard-line faction of FARC on 7 March 2002, while travelling in FARC-controlled territory. Betancourt had spoken at the Canberra Gathering, making many friends. As a result, Green Parties all over the world have organized, pressing their governments to bring pressure to bear. For example, Green Parties in African countries, Austria, Canada, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, France, Scotland, Sweden and other countries have launched campaigns calling for Betancourt's release. Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Greens, went to Colombia, as did an envoy from the European Federation, Alain Lipietz, who issued a report. [ [http://www.providence.edu/polisci/affigne/free_ingrid.htm#Anchor-Lipietz Devuelve a Ingrid Viva ] ] The four Federations of Green Parties issued a message to FARC. [ [http://www.web.greens.org/~cls/gp/to-farc-ep] ] Ingrid Betancourt was rescued by the Colombian military in Operation_Jaquein 2008. However, the efforts of the Green Parties shows their potential to unite and campaign jointly. [ [http://www.providence.edu/polisci/affigne/free_ingrid.htm Devuelve a Ingrid Viva ] ]
Global Green meetings
Separately from the Global Green Gatherings, "Global Green Meetings" take place. For instance, one took place on the fringe of the
World Summit on Sustainable Developmentin Johannesberg. Green Parties attended from Australia, Taiwan, Korea, South Africa, Mauritius, Uganda, Cameroon, Republic of Cyprus, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the USA, Mexico and Chile. The Global Green Meeting discussed the situation of Green Parties on the African continent; heard a report from Mike Feinstein, former Mayor of Santa Monica, about setting up a web site of the GGN; discussed procedures for the better working of the GGC; and decided two topics on which the Global Greens could issue statements in the near future: Iraq and the 2003 WTO meeting in Cancun.
The member parties of the
Global Greensare organised into four continental federations:
Federation of Green Parties of Africa
*Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas / Federación de los Partidos Verdes de las Américas
Asia-Pacific Green Network
European Federation of Green Parties
The European Federation of Green Parties formed itself as the European Green Party on
22 February 2004, in the run-up to European Parliamentelections in June 2004, a further step in trans-national integration.
Green economics focuses on the importance of the health of the
biosphereto human well-being. Consequently, most Greens distrust conventional capitalism, as it tends to emphasize economic growthwhile ignoring ecological health; the "full cost" of economic growth often includes damage to the biosphere, which is unacceptable according to green politics. Green economics considers such growth to be " uneconomic growth"— material increase that nonetheless lowers overall quality of life.
Some Greens refer to
productivism, consumerismand scientismas "grey", as contrasted with "green", economic views. "Grey" implies age, concrete, and lifelessness.
Therefore, adherents to green politics advocate economic policies designed to safeguard the environment. Greens want governments to stop subsidizing companies that waste resources or pollute the natural world, subsidies that Greens refer to as "dirty subsidies". Some currents of green politics place automobile and agribusiness subsidies in this category, as they may harm human health. On the contrary, Greens look to a
green tax shiftthat will encourage both producers and consumers to make ecologically friendly choices.
Green economics is on the whole anti-globalist. Economic
globalizationis considered a threat to well-being, which will replace natural environments and local cultures with a single trade economy, termed the global economic monoculture.
Since green economics emphasizes biospheric health, an issue outside the traditional left-right spectrum, different currents within green politics incorporate ideas from
socialismand capitalism. Greens on the Left are often identified as Eco-socialists, who merge ecologyand environmentalismwith socialismand Marxismand blame the capitalist system for environmental degradation, social injustice, inequality and conflict. Eco-capitalists, on the other hand, believe that the free marketsystem, with some modification, is capable of addressing ecological problems.
Since the beginning, green politics has emphasized local,
grassroots-level political activity and decision-making. According to its adherents, it is crucial that citizens play a direct role in the decisions that influence their lives and their environment. Therefore, green politics seeks to increase the role of deliberative democracy, based on direct citizen involvement and consensus decision making, wherever it is feasible.
Green politics also encourages political action on the individual level, such as
ethical consumerism, or buying things that are made according to environmentally ethical standards. Indeed, many green parties emphasize individual and grassroots action at the local and regional levels over electoral politics. Historically, green parties have grown at the local level, gradually gaining influence and spreading to regional or provincial politics, only entering the national arena when there is a strong network of local support.
In addition, many Greens believe that governments should not levy taxes against strictly local production and trade. Some Greens advocate new ways of organizing authority to increase local control, including
urban secessionand bioregional democracy.
Green politics on the whole is opposed to nuclear power and the buildup of
persistent organic pollutants, supporting adherence to the precautionary principle, by which technologies are rejected unless they can be proven to not cause significant harm to the health of living things or the biosphere. In Germanyand Swedenprograms have been initiated to shut down all nuclear plants (known as nuclear power phase-out).
In the spirit of nonviolence, Green politics opposes the
War on Terrorismand the curtailment of civil rights, focusing instead on nurturing deliberative democracyin war-torn regions and the construction of a civil societywith an increased role for women.
Although Greens in the United States "call for an end to the '
War on Drugs'" and "for decriminalization of victimless crimes", they also call for developing "a firm approach to law enforcement that directly addresses violent crime, including trafficking in hard drugs" [ [http://www.gp.org/platform/2004/socjustice.html#1001998 U.S. Green Party platform:Criminal Justice] www.gp.org] .
Green platforms generally favor tariffs on
fossil fuels, restricting genetically modified organisms, and protections for ecoregionsor communities. In keeping with their commitment to the preservation of diversity, greens are often committed to the maintenance and protection of indigenous communities, languages, and traditions. An example of this is the Irish Green Party's commitment to the preservation of the Irish Language. [ [http://www.greenparty.ie/library/discussion_documents/gaeilge_staidph_ip_ar www.greenparty.ie webpage] ]
Green politics is usually said to include the
green anarchism, eco-anarchism, anti-nuclear and peace movements - although these often claim not to be aligned with any party. Some claim it also includes feminism, pacifismand the animal rightsmovements. Most Greens support special policy measures to empower women, especially mothers; to oppose war and de-escalate conflicts and stop proliferating technologies useful in conflict or likely to lead to conflict, and such radical measures as Great Ape personhood.
Greens on the Left adhere to
Eco-socialism, an ideology that combines ecology, environmentalism, socialismand Marxismto criticise the capitalist system as the cause of ecological crises, social exclusion, inequality and conflict. Many Green Parties are not avowedly eco-socialist but most Green Parties around the world have or have had a large Eco-socialist membership. This has led some on the right to refer to Greens as "watermelons"ndash green on the outside, red in the middle. [ [http://www.doubletongued.org/index.php/dictionary/watermelon "watermelon" definition from Double-Tongued Dictionary ] ]
Despite this stereotype, some centrist Greens follow more
geo-libertarianviews which emphasize natural capitalismndash and shifting taxes away from value created by labor or service and charging instead for human consumption of the wealth created by the natural world. Greens may view the processes by which living beings compete for mates, homes, and food, ecology, and the cognitive and political sciences very differently. These differences tend to drive debate on ethics, formation of policy, and the public resolution of these differences in leadership races. There is no single "Green Ethic".
Critique of green policy
Critics sometimes claim that the universal and immersive nature of
ecology, and the necessity of converting some of it to serve humanity, predisposes the movement towards authoritarian and intrusive policies, particularly with regard to the means of production, as these sustain human life.Fact|date=August 2007
Skeptics point out that industrial nations are in the best position to adopt state-of-the-art
clean energyand corresponding high pollution standardsndash and that Green Parties advocate going against economic progress. However, Greens respond that industrial nations are still those which use the most resources, and contribute most to climate change, and that as the poor world develops, we must help it develop with renewable rather than finite/carbon-based energy sources.
A further criticism is that Green parties are strongest among the well educated in the developed world, while many policies could be seen as operating against the interests of the poor both in rich countries and globally. For example, some Greens support increases in the indirect taxation of goods ("
ecotax") which they perceive to be polluting. This can result in the less well off paying a higher share of the tax burden because more of their income goes to purchasing essentials. Green defenders of the shift towards ecotaxes respond that the poor are often the first and greatest victims of environmental degradation and do not have the resources to adapt or move away. Protecting ecosystems therefore protects the poor even more than the rich who can better adapt or move. Furthermore, equity positive tax or refund adjustments can be made to the progressive income tax system to compensate for any socially regressive consequences of the green tax shift.
Globally, Green opposition to heavy industry is seen by critics as acting against the interests of rapidly industrialising poor countries such as
Chinaor Thailand. A counter view is that emerging nations from the South would benefit environmentally and economically given the rising cost of fossil fuels by leap-frogging the fossil-driven industrial stage and moving directly to the post-fossil powered stage of production.
Green participation in the
anti-globalisationmovement, and the leading role taken by Green parties in countries such as the United Statesin opposing free trade agreements, also leads critics to argue that Greens are against opening up rich country markets to goods from the developing world, although many Greens would argue that they are in favour of trade justice - Fair trade over Free Trade. Contrary to the above view, Greens in Europe advocate the lowering of trade barriers and argue for the elimination of export subsidies for agricultural products in the industralised nations.
Critics argue that Greens have a
Ludditeview of technology, opposing technologies such as genetic modificationwhich their critics see as positive. Greens have often taken the lead in raising concerns about public healthissues such as obesitywhich critics see as a modern form of moral panic. Whereas a technophobic point of view can be found in the early Green movement and parties, Greens today reject the accusation of Luddism, countering that their policies of sustainable growth encourage 'clean' technological innovation like renewable energy and anti-pollution technology.
List of environmental organizations
* [http://www.global.greens.org.au/charter.htm Global Greens Charter, Canberra 2001]
* [http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Users/ssfa2/ecology.html "Ecology and Society" - book on politics and sociology of environmentalism]
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