A Green New Deal for the UK? Part 3
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 third in a series of blogs in which we feature their responses.
Eamonn Ives, researcher, Centre for Policy Studies
Make no mistake about it, the Green New Deal is anything but. While paraded as a plan to help the environment, a light scratch beneath the surface is all it takes to reveal its true, altogether redder, colours. Fundamentally, it is a blueprint to expand government control in a way never seen before, and besiege the very system which will give the world’s largest economy the best shot at arresting climate change. The UK would be foolish to follow suit.
This is not a hymn to unchecked, wanton free markets. Proponents of laissez faire economics can and, indeed, should support such reasonable principles as internalising externalities. But the GND makes the fatal error of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Capitalism is the only mode of production capable of maximally harnessing humanity’s creative ingenuity to overcome complex problems. Within the context of climate change, it is the entrepreneur, not the politburo, which has furnished us with cultured meat, renewable energy, low carbon transport and much else besides. Certainly, it is these advancements which have allowed the UK to see its carbon emissions steadily drop from their peak in the late-20th century.
The GND is admirable insofar as it acknowledges the symptoms of a warming planet. But it dismally miscalculates the diagnosis, and, crucially, the cure. Less and better applied government, not simply markedly more, gives us the best chance of unleashing that ultimate resource – the human mind – to invent, refine and disperse the technologies which will vanquish climate change once and for all.
Emma Degg, chief executive, North West Business Leadership Team
A Green New Deal could stimulate growth that does not undermine the carrying capacity of our planet. If our growth is high quality, innovative and sustainable, then we will set ourselves apart from the pack; we will have a significant sustainability advantage and we’ll have healthier business and communities. If we grasp the opportunity to be pioneers, we will secure an advantage not just for our country, but we will also be exporting sustainable solutions and ideas which will have a progressive and positive impact the world over.
There is only one outcome that matters and it is a sustainable future. If we want to be able to look back a generation from now and see, with pride, how we accomplished a huge and positive change, we have to realise, fundamentally, that achieving sustainability is not a nice to have, an optional extra or a bolt-on boost to our social responsibility. It is essential.
Chris Saltmarsh, co-director: climate change campaigns, People & Planet
Through the divestment movement, British and Irish students have forged the space for transformative climate action by stripping fossil fuel companies of their social licence operate. Now the Green New Deal offers a framework for governments to systematically dismantle the fossil fuel industry while investing to deliver a just, zero carbon economy.
The prosperity promised by the Green New Deal is its strength. But, without a confrontation with the fossil fuel industry, which has actively blocked climate action since the 1970s, the plan will fail before it begins.
The UK is the centre of so much fossil capital. BP and BHP are based here. So are banks like Barclays and HSBC which provide billions in corporate and project finance to continue extraction. A Green New Deal in the UK must rein in the banks, break up the companies responsible for climate breakdown, and ensure a secure and prosperous future for all.
[Image: Sunrise Movement in South Francisco call on Nancy Pelosi to advance a Green New Deal. Courtesy of Peg Hunter via Flickr]