Just two short years ago, it seemed everyone at Davos was committed to striking a Green New Deal. This year, the phrase is no longer so fashionable, and you are more likely to come across it in populist rants against globalism and globalists or the Davos agenda.
Writing from Davos in the Wall Street Journal today, Walter Russell Mead eschews the term, arguing instead that any kind of deal that requires “coordination between private sector and political leaders,” and “global coordination” especially, will be repugnant to “the traditional standpoint of American pro-market conservatism.”
No argument there. What Mead doesn’t say, of course, is that the current policy environment favors some private-public coordination and some global coordination and industrial development over other kinds. The laissez-faire, go-it-alone, America First standpoint conservatives hold up for the world to admire is a fiction, rife with contradictions, a form of self-flattery or a story told in pursuit of policy goals. So is the soft denialism of the American right, which holds “that climate change will [not] arrive as quickly or be as devastating as the Davos consensus believes”; but Mead is probably correct that this position will carry the day in the US, at least for the near term.
The question, then, is what sort of deal or climate policy framework should we expect to emerge from this mix of soft denialism and anti-globalism? Nothing too ambitious or coherent, I imagine. The promises of the Green New Deal were abandoned almost as soon as they were made, or shortly after the 2020 election. So now what? I have been tentatively arguing that in the US we’re seeing the emergence of a Green Right. They will focus for the next couple of years on touting jobs in red districts (think infrastructure, mining, and EVs); taking an axe to environmental and financial regulation (e.g., permitting reform and attacks on “woke” ESG); setting border policy to keep migrants and refugees out; and striking an increasingly aggressive posture toward China (at Axios, Jael Holzman has a piece about how that could backfire).
And this program probably has better chances of taking hold in the US than the Green New Deal ever did.