Very British, but a revolution nonetheless
Could new initiatives like the Green New Deal really work? This week, while the world was looking elsewhere, Labour turned into one of the most radical mainstream parties on the planet.
This week, Labour became the first political party in the world to formally adopt the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to transform the economy, make society more equal — and heal the planet.
“This is a huge deal: one of the first major political party adoptions of a #GreenNewDeal as an official policy plank,” tweeted Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has led the fight for a Green New Deal in the USA.
Under the plan, the UK would produce net zero carbon emissions by 2030 — just five years later than the deadline demanded by radical activist group, Extinction Rebellion.
“Labour now has the most ambitious net zero plans in the world,” said a party spokesperson. “Conference agreed that these should be achieved through massive investment in infrastructure and skills, public ownership of key utilities and supporting climate transition in the global south.”
So, what does Labour’s Green New Deal look like?
The party would make the UK carbon-neutral by taking control of all public transport in order to provide free or affordable travel; retrofitting all social housing and public buildings to make them energy efficient, and working with farmers to eliminate emissions from agriculture.
A Labour government would also offer support to climate refugees who flee to the UK.
The plan requires huge investment in green energy, spending £83 billion over a decade to create new jobs and entirely new industries.
Meanwhile, the big six energy firms would be nationalised to provide affordable green energy for all. These huge, decarbonisation projects would be funded by taxing the wealthiest in society.
But the party won’t stop there.
At its conference, Labour also committed to abolishing all private schools; extending the vote to 16-year-olds in a second Brexit referendum; ending food bank use in three years, and introducing a four-day working week by 2030.
“The party has adopted a number of extraordinary radical policies which, if it got to carry them out, would transform the country,” said Robert Shrimsley, The Financial Times’s political commentator.
So can the Green New Deal really work?
Brave new world
Its opponents say that the vast amount of money the plan requires simply does not exist, and that there is no practical plan to put the changes in place. Not only is it unrealistic, they argue, but the radical proposals to seize control of massive segments of the economy would lead to chaos on a national scale, and plunge the most vulnerable into destitution.
But more and more economists agree: the economy is broken. Our capitalist system is destroying the planet and creating huge inequality, with millions excluded from opportunity and prosperity. The climate crisis and the financial disasters of the last decade present an opportunity to build a moral economy to benefit everyone and secure humanity’s future. It’s not a question of whether we should do it — we must do it.
- Would you give up air travel to help the climate crisis?
- Is the Green New Deal a good idea?
- List three more policies that you would put in place to achieve the aims of the Green New Deal.
- Research the consequences of global warming at 1.5C, 2C and 3C. Make a poster showing your findings
Some People Say...
“We’re going to pay. And we have to decide whether we’re going to pay to react, or pay to be proactive.”Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (often referred to by her initials, AOC)
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- The name of the Green New Deal is a reference to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s. The New Deal was a huge project during the Great Depression that gave relief to the impoverished, and got people back into work. Without the huge investment, experts agree that the depression would have been more severe and gone on for longer.
- What do we not know?
- How exactly Labour’s most radical policies would be implemented. As part of its education policy, Labour would limit the proportion of private school students that universities can accept to 7% — which is the proportion they make up of the overall pupil population. However, many are furious about this limit, especially as the percentage of sixth formers who go to private schools is nearer to 15%.
- The Labour Party Conference took place in Brighton this week. However, it ended early on Tuesday as MPs were set to return to London for an emergency meeting in Parliament, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic decision.
- Add or change a component that wasn’t part of the original build.
- Climate refugees
- The World Bank has warned that climate crisis could force 140 million people to leave their homes by 2050.
- Big six
- British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE.
- Food bank use
- The number of people using Trussell Trust food banks increased from 41,000 to 1.2 million between 2010 and 2017.
- Like Joseph Stiglitz. See Become An Expert to read his argument for creating a fairer, greener economy.
- Financial disasters
- The financial crisis of 2007 to 2008. Recently, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, warned that Britain is currently facing the biggest risk of a recession since 2007. Other key economies, including the US and Germany, are also showing warning signs of an imminent global recession.