A Green New Deal for the UK? Part 2
We asked 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. This is the second in a series of blogs in which we feature their responses.
Councillor Angeliki Stogia, executive member, Environment, Planning & Transport and Labour and co-operative councillor, Whalley Range, Manchester City Council
It means between £49m and £141m of savings every year from our residents’ energy bills. 30,000 new jobs in the environment and sustainability sector. £17m savings to the NHS each year by eradicating cold, damp, energy inefficient homes. A £1.3 billion boost to the local economy from dealing with our congestion and air pollution problems.
As well as making our fair contribution to the Paris Agreement, these are among the benefits we estimate Manchester will achieve from becoming a zero carbon city by 2038 and staying within our 15 million tonne carbon budget for 2018-2100.
Manchester isn’t alone: all UK cities and towns have the potential to realise these types of benefits. However, getting there needs a fundamental shift in our work with the government. We urgently need a comprehensive national programme to enable all UK local authorities, our residents and our businesses to fully and urgently contribute to the Paris Agreement and realise the benefits that will come as a result.
This programme needs to be in place by COP25 in November 2019 and operational from early-2020 at the latest, if the government is serious about the UK’s commitment to Paris. For our part we are currently putting in place a Manchester Zero Carbon Framework 2020-38, which has been formally endorsed by the Manchester City Council today. I sincerely hope that over the next 12 months we can bring the government on board as one of our key partners in its delivery.
Grace Blakeley, research fellow, Institute for Public Policy Research’s Commission on Economic Justice
Co-ordinated state action is necessary to address climate change without harming the economy or inflicting the costs on the poorest. Far from being a radical dream, a Green New Deal is increasingly the only sensible choice.
Immediately after Brexit, logistical problems could prevent vital goods from reaching shop shelves. Falling house prices would affect people’s wealth, and rising import costs could erode spending power. Lower consumer spending and increased uncertainty would constrain business investment, potentially leading to job cuts and wage reductions. This analysis, however, rests on the assumption that the government will not intervene to address any of these problems.
A properly resourced stimulus programme could both absorb the initial demand shock of any exit, and expand the economy’s productive potential. In truth, there is only one option: a Green New Deal.
Putting billions of pounds worth of investment into green infrastructure, and research and development into green technologies, would both absorb the demand shock today and expand productivity tomorrow. Combined with policy measures to democratise ownership, and reforms to the tax system, future growth would be more fairly shared.
Nick Taylor, CUSP research fellow, Goldsmiths University
The Green New Deal is a vision that could embrace many different ecological and economic strategies, but it would certainly have to mean a new approach to government spending and to the regulation of the financial sector.
Resuscitated under the banner of Democratic Socialism in the United States, there the GND is promising a transformative change in how the economy works by asserting the enormous capacity for the state to fund infrastructure, a federal job guarantee and more.
In the UK, large scale low carbon investment has been sought for years through encouragement of the UK financial sector, and new forms of ‘green finance’. The evidence so far is that, despite increasing noise about environmentally and socially responsible investing, the financial sector as a whole will remain heavily invested in fossil fuels and will only consider social or low carbon infrastructure if the risks and returns on capital are acceptable.
The depth and magnitude of the ecological crisis require a GND that challenges the logic that brought us to this situation of existential urgency. That means an agenda that, among other things, affirms the capacity of the state, contra years of austerity, to invest in low carbon infrastructure and jobs, and to take a far greater interventionist stance in regulating the financial sector and its relationship to investment.
[Image: school students strike for climate in London, courtesy of David Holt via Flickr]