This article explores the context, nature and requirements for a “Green New Deal” for Canada. (Jeremy Rifkin is the author of The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth. He is the President of the Foundation on Economic Trends and TIR Consulting Group LLC, and is an adviser to the European Union, the People’s Republic of China and to heads of state around the world on Green New Deal-style transitions).

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues, social studies, business studies, entrepreneurship

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What is the “New Green Deal”?
  • What would be required to achieve it?
  • How will it change things?
  • What roles do individuals and governments play?

New Terminology:

Internet of things, glocalization

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity


There have been many different efforts to develop green technology to replace fossil fuel reliance. Nevertheless, the tug of war between the two continues as those who look to fossil fuels argue that the economy is dependent upon their continued use. Debates over pipelines rage, fractious issues of separation raise their ugly heads and provinces disagree on future directions. Some, such as Ontario, are cancelling previously approved green energy contracts and stressing fossil fuel initiatives such as pipeline development, while others forge ahead with efforts to replace fossil fuel consumption with green alternatives. Some provinces, Ontario included, are appealing the federal government’s imposition of a carbon tax on those provinces which do not have a greenhouse gas program in place which meets federal requirements.

Given this state of affairs, how can Canada possibly move forward in its efforts to address climate change? There needs to be a recognition that future prosperity and, indeed, the health of our world depends upon the development of green technology. The article provides that perspective and suggests ways to achieve a “Green New Deal” for Canada. This lesson will use this article as the basis for student discussions on the ways and means of developing such a plan and, through the use of a jigsaw strategy, have the students examine carefully the forces that are at work which should enable the development of such a strategy.


  • Begin the lesson by asking the students to indicate by a show of hands how many accept that climate change is a real and present danger that needs to be addressed immediately.
  • Assuming that the majority, if not all, will respond in the affirmative, ask them why, if this is so obvious, more isn’t being done.
  • With this as background, indicate to them that they are going to examine, through the use of a jigsaw strategy, an article that explores issues surrounding the development of an actual “Green New Deal” for Canada.
  • Provide copies of the article to the students.
  • Divide the class into five work groups and have the students number off one to five, with the first group starting with the number one, the second group starting with the number two etc.. These will be the home groups.
  • Having done this, have the students regroup into their corresponding numbered expert groups and assign the following tasks:
    • Expert Group 1: You are responsible for understanding the background section of the article which begins at the beginning and ends halfway on page two, ending with “unparalleled in economic history”.
    • Expert Group 2: You are responsible for preparing the second section of the article dealing with the various “revolutions” which have occurred. This section begins halfway down page two at “Canada, currently…” and running 2/3 of the way down page three, ending with “little potential left to exploit”.
    • Expert Group 3: You are responsible for the section starting on page three with “New studies, however,…” and ending with “territories funding the remainder.” part way down page four. This section deals with some details of the Green New Deal.
    • Expert Group 4: You are responsible for the section dealing with the role of government starting on page four with “In addition to overseeing the build-out…” and ending near the top of page five with “infrastructure as a public trust”.
    • Expert Group 5: You are responsible for the section dealing with how to get the smart national power grid starting on page five with “Notwithstanding the fact…” and going to the end of the article.
  • Allow the expert groups time to complete their tasks and then reassemble the students in their home groups.


  • Beginning with experts number one and following in order to experts number five, have the students present their material to their group members and allow them time to discuss the material.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • explain the forces that are at work which should lead to changes in efforts to address climate change;
  • provide some background into the evolution of our energy needs and actions;
  • explain the concept of a new green deal and what it will take to accomplish it.

Confirming Activity:

  • Once the experts have completed their presentations and the groups have discussed the material, hold a plenary session to address any remaining issues and questions and finally to have the students discuss whether or not they believe this new deal will be achieved, giving reasons for their responses.
  • Conclude the lesson by having the students identify things which must happen if this deal is to be realized and offer ideas as to what role they, as individuals, need to play.