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Naomi Klein: Green groups have become corporate stooges

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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The environmental movement has become the environmental industrial complex, according to a leading activist.

Canadian environmentalist and author Naomi Klein came out swinging against the environmental movement in a recent interview with the Guardian, arguing that environmentalists who partner with corporations are pushing poor policies that do more damage than global warming denialism from conservatives.

“We now understand it’s about corporate partnerships,” Klein said. “It’s not, ‘sue the bastards;’ it’s, ‘work through corporate partnerships with the bastards.’ There is no enemy anymore… More than that, it’s casting corporations as the solution, as the willing participants and part of this solution. That’s the model that has lasted to this day.”

“I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme 00 we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it’s disastrous”, she told the Guardian.

“Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work. And they were right on all counts,” Klein added.

According to Klein, the environmental movement saw huge success in the 1960s and ’70s until Ronald Reagan was elected president and began to wage a “war on the environmental movement.” The movement responded by adapting itself to fit “the rise of corporatist government” instead of standing up and defending its old values.

Klein talked about the failure of the Senate effort to pass cap and trade during 2009, when many believed the it would pass. Environmentalists portrayed it as a “win-win,” but Klein says that was a mistake since cap and trade would create losers — which Republicans were able to exploit.

“The phrase win-win is interesting, because there are a lot of losers in the win-win strategy,” Klein said. “A lot of people are sacrificed in the name of win-win. And in the US, we just keep it to the cap-and-trade fight and I know everyone is tired of fighting that fight. I do think there is a lot of evidence that we have not learned the key lessons of that failure.”

“I’m in favor of win-win, you know. The book I am writing is arguing that our responses to climate change can rebuild the public sphere, can strengthen our communities, can have work with dignity,” Klein told the Guardian. “We can address the financial crisis and the ecological crisis at the same. I believe that. But I think it’s by building coalitions with people, not with corporations, that you are going to get those wins.”

Klein is the author of controversial anti-capitalism books. Her most recent book called “The Shock Doctrine” argues that free-market proponents use natural and manufactured crises to ram through deregulation and less government — something which repulses the Canadian neo-socialist author.

Her next book, scheduled for release in 2014, will tackle global warming and will also be made into a film by her husband and creative partner Avi Lewis.

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