08/26/2011 05:15

Program to rely on net, rather than gross, economic growth; recognizes the importance of integrating sustainability into daily life,
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The Green Movement has issued a report proposing a “Green New Deal” program for Israel, asking that the government shift its economic policies from relying on figures of the Gross Domestic Product, and instead look to a Genuine Progress Indicator, which would account for negative factors like pollution and crime when calculating the country’s overall prosperity.

Rather than relying on the GDP – which provides gross economic growth, but doesn’t consider areas that might slash such advancement – Genuine Progress Indicator provides people with a more realistic sense of the country’s progress, or its true net growth, according to the Green Movement.

Opposed to “inherent values” like health, freedom and family, economic efficiency and increased Gross National Product are “instrumental values” that aim to bring “societal well-being and happiness,” Green Movement co- Chairman Prof. Alon Tal told The Jerusalem Post Thursday evening.

“The trouble is that in Israel, we can see how these indicators for most Israelis are not necessarily adding up to improvement,” Tal said. “So we would like to expand the vision of what our economic policy is trying to attain – and realize that equity, environment, etc., are important as well.”

Green New Deal is rooted in the group’s larger project called “Green Growth in Israel – the Economy of Tomorrow,” both of which “demand to produce fundamental change in Israel’s economy,” according to a statement from the movement.

The larger campaign also pushes for growth in the country’s water technology and solar industries, which can both provide thousands of good, clean jobs but currently lack government support and assistance, Tal explained.

Alleging that “a strong and prosperous economy can only be achieved if we seek to benefit the men and women who build society,” and recognizing the importance of integrating sustainability into daily life, the Green New Deal also seeks to prioritize the welfare of the general population and “encourage the success of the base layer,” according to the movements.

Meanwhile, the program suggests that taxes on substances potentially hazardous to the environment should rise, and compensatory cuts could be made in other places.

“Taxes won’t be increased at all,” Tal said. “It just means that you’ll pay less income tax or indirect taxes and more for products that are harmful. Our party, for example, does not favor the reduction in taxes on gasoline. But I think if we explained to the public that we’re offering subsidies for public transport, they would understand that this is the only policy that is sustainable for the long run, in terms of transportation.”

Israel would not be the first country to implement Genuine Progress Indicator-based economic policies, as the United Nations established its own global Green New Deal program in March 2009 – something that Tal said was discussed a bit during the previous elections but that no political party has yet adopted.

Many of the ideas advocated by the Green New Deal have already been embraced in European countries, particularly in Germany, Scandinavia and Denmark, which has, in part, turned its economy around and improved the environment through its wind industry, according to Tal.

Most successful, in the Green Movement’s view, however, is South Korea, which allocated $38 billion to environmental causes from a larger stimulus package in 2009, while making a similar economic transition, and thus far has not acquired significant debt from its investments, he explained.