CAROLINE LUCAS: Britain needs its own Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is getting a lot of attention in the United States, winning the support of many leading Democratic politicians and several contenders for the Democratic party nomination for president. Its name, a deliberate echo of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, and its growing profile in Washington might lead people to think it’s an American idea. But it was born in Britain. In 2007, just as the financial crisis was unfolding, I co-founded the Green New Deal group, proposing a radical plan to transform our economy and society on the scale needed to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. We believed an economic downturn was coming and that the response should be a plan to fund infrastructure to address climate change, and generate jobs and businesses in every part of the UK. The downturn duly came, and the following years were wasted. Instead of a huge investment programme, we had an austerity programme, imposing hardship on millions. At the same time, the climate crisis grew more urgent. The warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear: we have only 11 years left if we are to limit global warming to 1.5C, a central goal of the 2015 Paris agreement. The UK now faces a crisis on several fronts: the climate emergency, the looming economic damage of Brexit, extreme inequality and widespread poverty made worse by austerity. But this does not mean we have lost the opportunity to transform our country. In fact, developments in the past decade have strengthened our original case. The Brexit vote has focused attention on the economically excluded communities of Britain; there is much more discussion of the state’s role in improving the UK’s infrastructure; and the use of quantitative easing by the government to bail out the financial services sector has shown us one of several ways to finance a Green New Deal. What was needed then – and is needed even more now – is a huge investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, programmes to insulate every building in Britain, a move to a more sustainable farming system, and to bring hope and jobs to communities hollowed out by deindustrialisation.
FT 8th June 2019 read more »