October 14th, 2015

The errors of this period [the passage of NAFTA] cannot be undone, but it is not too late for a new kind of climate movement to take up the fight against so-called free trade and build this needed architecture now. That doesn’t—and never did—mean an end to economic exchange across borders. It does, however, mean a far more thoughtful and deliberate approach to why we trade and whom it serves. Encouraging the frenetic and indiscriminate consumption of essentially disposable products can no longer be the system’s goal. Goods must once again be made to last, and the use of energy-intensive long-haul transport will need to be rationed—reserved for those cases where goods cannot be produced locally or where local production is more carbon intensive. (For example, growing food in greenhouses in cold parts of the United States is often more energy intensive than growing it in warmer regions and shipping it by light rail.)

According to Llana Solomon, trade analyst for the Sierra Club, this is not a fight that the climate movement can avoid. “In order to combat climate change, there’s a real need to start localizing our economies again, and thinking about how and what we’re purchasing and how it’s produced. And the most basic rule of trade law is you can’t privilege domestic over foreign. So how do you tackle the idea of needing to incentivize local economies, tying together local green jobs policies with clean energy policies, when that is just a no-go in trade policy? …If we don’t think about how the economy is structured, then we’re actually never going to the real root of the problem.”

These kinds of economic reforms would be good new—for unemployed workers, for farmers unable to compete with cheap imports, for communities that have seen manufacturers move offshore and their local businesses replaced with big box stores. And all of these constituencies would be needed to fight for these policies, since they represent the reversal of the thirty-year trend of removing every possible limit on corporate power. p. 85-86

From This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

Found in my electronic chapbook.

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