A Green New Deal for the UK? Part 1

AOC smallThe first in a short series of blogs where we ask individuals from environmental and social justice groups, politics, academia, businesses and young people to tell us what they think the Green New Deal might mean for the UK. 

As scientific consensus on climate change repeatedly points to evidence that global warming is caused by human activity, an appeal to use policy to address these activities has boosted momentum. The Green New Deal (GND) in the US situates climate change as a major national emergency and integrates economic opportunities to uplift communities and combat man-made global warming.

Rather than a step-by-step plan, the GND is a set of ambitious goals, to some impractical and to others necessary. Whether we aspire to achieve such goals or not, the GND has pushed climate change into everyday conversation and is spurring politicians to respond.

Ann Pettifor, director, Policy Research in Macroeconomics
Ann Pettifor smilling director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics - 0041 - March 03, 2017 - copyright Foyers Photography websiteThe Green New Deal will have four major impacts on the economy of Britain. First, it will accelerate the transformation of the economy away from its dependence on carbon. Second, it will end austerity.  The levels of government investment needed to promote Britain’s human as well as its ecological security will be considerable. The investment will finance both the private finance and public sectors to undertake the work of transformation. Third, it will create millions of new jobs – in, for example scientific research, engineering, agriculture, architecture, energy and housing – but also in the arts, in the caring sector and in education. These will be both skilled and unskilled jobs and the income and tax revenues generated by investment in those jobs will, thanks to the multiplier, help repay the initial investment. Fourth, it will end the financialisation of the economy by private authority, and restore, through public authority, greater equality, soundness and stability to the economy.

The Green New Deal, if implemented, offers the people of Britain security, both climate, financial and job security. In other words, the GND’s promise of subordinating the private finance sector to the interests of society – to public, not private authority – will ensure greater financial stability and predictability for the economy, and an end to periodic and increasingly frequent financial crises.

A government that works internationally to implement the Green New Deal worldwide will also provide the British people and future generations with a liveable planet, security from the floods, wildfires, storms and sea rises that threaten to destroy lives and livelihoods and ravage properties if global temperature rises are not held at or below 1.50°C.

Sam Richards, director, Conservative Environment Network
Sam RichardsWhile the Green New Deal has successfully driven climate change up the American political agenda, at its heart is a divisive and counterproductive socialist platform. US conservatives support solar power, and could be persuaded to back tax credits for electric vehicles or industrial innovation. Instead, from a jobs guarantee to scrapping tuition fees – all of which are paid for by literally printing money or ‘Modern Monetary Theory’ – the GND alienates potential allies by dressing up a traditional hard left platform as environmentalism.

One of the greatest successes of British politics in recent years – unique in the English-speaking world – has been the nurturing of a cross party consensus on climate change. While the GND may be a useful campaigning tool to whip up the Democratic base, importing its politics would damage the British consensus, while its economics would saddle our children with debt. Businesses, not the state, will deliver the technologies required to tackle climate change. We can save the planet they’ll inherit without bankrupting our children.

Wanda Wyporska, executive director, The Equality Trust
WWwebA Green New Deal for the UK is just common sense, plain and simple. The Equality Trust supports this as an essential stepping stone towards realising a radically different type of economy, a wellbeing economy that guarantees a decent future for all of us, both in the UK and globally. It speaks to a future secured within planetary limits. We don’t need a bigger pie. We just need to share the pie much more fairly.

However, popular and political consent to the transition to a wellbeing economy, via a GND, will not be forthcoming unless material inequality between rich and poor is hugely reduced. Without reducing inequality in a sustained manner, we are unlikely to achieve the necessary levels of trust required to develop a civic-minded consensus and the policies needed to implement a GND.

Fortunately, as the research collated and analysed in The Spirit Level and The Inner Level shows, we know that societies that are already more equal have higher levels of trust and civic-mindedness, ranging from attitudes to recycling to a greater willingness amongst business leaders and politicians to engage with international efforts to combat climate change and global warming.

Therefore, we must redouble our efforts to make our societies more equal and demand that radical, redistributive policies are implemented to produce the most conducive social and political environment possible for the delivery of a GND programme. And – as the kids’ strike on climate change showed us – it’s now or never.

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