Miatta Fahnbulleh – Britain needs a green new deal to revive its economy after Brexit

It means recognising that climate change is a symptom of our broken economic system.

On the benighted continent the idea of a Green New Deal is virtually unknown (the exception being Yanis Varoufakis bringing it over for his DiEM movement) as the political pall of German hegemony follows upon the economic hegemony. But let us not give up hope. Where there are kids on the streets protesting, there may well be a future.

Miatta Fahnbulleh is Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation

Cross-posted from the New Economics Foundation

Britain needs a new economy that works for everyone and to move beyond the old, broken systems and status quo that left many people behind. A green new deal for the UK could give us just that. Climate change has muscled its way back onto the political agenda. It was debated by MPs last week for the first time in two years. It seems that the momentum around Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey’s green new deal in the US, the audacious climate march on Westminster by schoolchildren last month and increasingly rising temperatures may have finally jolted our politicians out of their climate stupor.

Four months ago, a group of experts on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered the news that the world must halve carbon emissions in a little over a decade. Responding would require an almighty push to green our economy — one that would touch on every aspect of our lives. Despite this stark warning from scientists, the political establishment in Westminster barely flinched. There was no commitment to redouble our efforts, no renewed urgency or call to action. Instead, our politics continued to be consumed by Brexit.

But the IPCC report was a sobering wake-up call for many. A movement of activists in the US, backed by a new generation of Democrats, including the Justice Democrats, are reacting with the urgency needed. The green new deal — an idea that came from organisations including the New Economics Foundation (NEF) a decade ago — has emerged as a forceful response.

The idea is simple: an unprecedented mobilisation of resources to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions within a decade while creating millions of jobs and lifting living standards.

At its heart, the deal is a recognition that climate change and the wider threat to our environment is a symptom of an economic system that is broken. The same economic system that has delivered a decade of wage stagnation, left millions of people feeling squeezed and led to rising poverty and inequality. To tackle climate change, we must transform the economy and we should do this in a way that works for the majority of people: environmental justice working in tandem with social justice.

The question that everyone is asking is: is this doable or simply a pipe dream? But this is completely the wrong question. The question we should be asking is can we get away with not taking action on climate change. If the science is right, then the answer is no. The more that global temperatures rise, the more chaos in the system: more devastating hurricanes, record droughts, extreme floods, coastlines disappearing, food scarcity from loss of crop yields and fisheries — all driving climate-related poverty across the world at a scale we cannot even imagine. The cost of this not just in pounds but in human suffering will far outstrip the cost of any green new deal.

Therefore, the choice before us is whether we take concerned, deliberate action now to achieve the change we need or we sleepwalk into a crisis and throw money at the problem in a panic when it will be too late. When viewed like this, a green new deal becomes a no-brainer.

To be transformative and rise to the scale of the challenge, it will need to get three key things right. First, it must be ambitious, bringing about radical reductions in carbon emissions in the next decade. Second, it will require significant government action — from large-scale investment in green infrastructure and technology to incentives and regulation to bend markets that have been slow to act towards the climate imperative. Third, in return for consenting to this scale of change, there has to be a good deal for the public.

There must be a promise to create millions of good, high-wage jobs in place of those that will be lost and to provide a much bigger stake in the new economy that we will create. The green economy that emerges must be owned by people and work in their interest. This will mean collective ownership of green infrastructure, public goods and assets and more co-operative ways of organising new industries that will spring up.

Get this right and we could radically transform our economy so it works for people and the planet. If our politicians can shake themselves out of their Brexit bind, they may just see that here lies the agenda for post-Brexit Britain.

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1 Comment

  1. Well, the science is not right for a start. Global warming looks like a scam, talks like a scam, walks like a scam and until the science is back to scientific principles and ditches the fraudulent practices this will continue to be a scam. Why do people support this scam? Some are genuinely deluded, many believe a pack of lies for a good cause must be worth the support for a crowd of political shysters making a mint feom taxpayers and hapless low-income consumers, and then, of course, are the many who know very well it doesn’t add up. Altogether, this climate change business is a variation on all the othwr scams perpetrated by the politically active manipulators. Like feminism, environmentalism was long ago hijacked by people who are in the business of making money from the support for good causes. Any good cause will do, as long as enough people can be made to support the legislation to sluice taxpayers moneys into these scams. In this case, the problem and the mooted solutions are clashing directly with the actual solutions implemented and paid for. When it gets to financing the solutions offered, the facts which were trotted out in order to get people to agree to all the extra expense is conveniently forgotten.
    To make the story stick, people have had to be persuaded that it is not a natural change in climate as has been happening always, but that people are to blame. The problem is caused by fossil fuel burning, yes? The solution? More fossil fuel burning. It doesn’t add up. The moment climate activist scientists and their backers start walking the talk and stop falsifying the figures to make it look like the world is getting hotter overall, then people can have a good look at reducing environmental degradation. Promising a million well-paid jobs, for instance, is nonsensical in view of the fact that climate activists claim that it is fossil fuel burning that is the problem. The proble is too much money, too much apending on luxurious items, too much waste, too much false economy, too much useless and wasteful and destructive economic activity, too much spent on subsidies which do nothing but allow the recipients to collect economic rent as a reward for their political activism. The Left and the Greens who honestly be
    Ieve they can beat the global financial elite at the game of exploiting the people and the mug-taxpayers and come out, if not on top, then at least gain political leverage, are fooling themselves-probably ffooling themselves on purpose. As long as the money keeps rolling in, who cares about the environment?

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