Climate change denial was defeated in 2019. But what comes next won't be easier

We already see this new politics taking shape in emergent debates over competing proposals for addressing the climate crisis. Bernie Sanders’ and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s respective versions of the Green New Deal are very different from the proposal for a European Green Deal recently put forward by the new president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

The first approach wants to connect the issue of the climate crisis with social justice, and advocates for a massive expansion in the role of the state to manage the transition to renewable energy. The second approach treats the issue of the climate crisis in isolation from other social and political issues, and proposes market rather than state mechanisms to address it.

Nor are these the only two options on the table. Another prominent strand of contemporary environmentalism is the one heralded by Pope Francis in the 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si, which folds the struggle against the climate crisis into a broader critique of the “modern myth of unlimited material progress” on the basis of a religiously inspired conception of the inherent rights of the “natural order”.

This growing diversification of environmental positions is a sign that the movement as a whole is maturing. Environmentalists of all stripes are realizing that there remain important political decisions to be made even after climate crisis denial has been defeated.

This opinion column is authored by Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti, associate professor of political science at the City University of New York – City College.

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