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Budget fails to deliver Green New Deal

Green New Deal Group members explain why the Budget falls far short of what’s needed to tackle the triple crunch of finance, climate and energy crises, and set out their vision for a Green New Deal Budget

Colin Hines, Convenor Green New Deal Group: “The Budget should encourage private savers and pension funds to augment government funding of a Green New Deal. The government should urge local authorities to issue bonds that pension funds and others could invest in. These would be repaid out of the massive energy savings generated by making all council properties energy efficient. A huge number of local jobs would be created quickly, and a safe haven provided for savers. Depositors are already shunning banks and the stock market and in the last three months have put nearly £10 billion into National Savings. This trend should be built on by issuing Green Gilts and ‘families go green’ bonds, all paying a slightly higher interest rate, but all going into carbon reducing, jobs and business enhancing programmes such as energy efficiency, renewables and increased public transportation.”

Andrew Simms, nef policy director: ‘When the banking crisis hit, the Government understood, eventually, that something fundamentally different had to be done. Old dogma about public ownership of banks was quickly thrown out and financial resources were found on a previously unimaginable scale. Approaching the Budget, the Government now has to show that it has properly understood the scale and depth of the threat posed by climate change and energy security. This is not about a few new electric cars or green painted bungs to vehicle manufacturers in the form of ’scrappage’ schemes. First, electric cars still need power, and its source must be green. Second, there is no evidence that ’scrappage’ schemes will do anything to lower emissions overall, they could even make things worse.

“A truly green budget will begin to imagine the comprehensive re-engineering of our energy, transport and food systems, and begin the overhaul of our building stock. It will set the UK on a path to living within its environmental means and ensure that the policies and resources are in place to set out on that path. The good news is that the effort to preserve the climatic conditions under which civilisation emerged will keep the economy dynamic, and us all in work, for many decades to come. That is the once-and-only chance that the Government must grasp.”

Ann Pettifor, Director of Advocacy International: “The Green New Deal set out to replace and transform the broken global financial system, which has little regard for financial and ecological limits. We want to subordinate what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the money power’ to the interests of both society and the ecosystem. We want to ensure money is no object when it comes to financing the transformation needed to guarantee the future of human and other life forms on the planet. The Green New Deal spells out the ways and means. Some have been selectively adopted. However, G20 leaders continue to back ‘the money power’ and resist change. They seek only to protect, patch up and restore the current, broken system. We need a new political alliance of Greens, Labour and Industry to challenge the ‘money power’ and build a more stable, just and liveable international order.”

Caroline Lucas, MEP: “What do we expect from Darling?  Too little, too late – and falling far short of the Green economic transformation that we so urgently need. The Green New Deal is meant to be a first step to a very different economy.   It’s not a question of giving the old economy a greenish tinge, it’s about laying the basis for a new sustainable economy – so that means making big decisions now. We need to put the economy on a war footing, invest massively in the renewables technology that delivers far more jobs per megawatt than coal or nuclear, and which could start delivering those jobs today. Give the same treatment to energy efficiency measures, green agriculture, green transport, and a zero waste strategy, and each of these things will deliver far more jobs than the less progressive alternatives, whilst simultaneously making significant cuts in emissions.”

Richard Murphy, Director of Tax Research LLP: “A critical part of the Green New Deal is reclaiming control of our finances. To everyone’s surprise the UK is leading the fight against tax havens that the Green new Deal calls for, but there is much still to do. Tax avoidance has to be beaten, as well as tax evasion, and changes in accounting as well as tax rules are required to do this. The result of that change would be country by country reporting of corporate financial results. This resulting data would also let us trace an organisation’s real activity – and measure its global impact and responsibility. When we know what corporations do we can hold them to account. That’s a key part of the Green New Deal.”

Tony Juniper, Environmental Campaigner: “While trillions are pumped into the banking system, the investments into the low carbon and resource efficient transformations needed to avoid a real disaster are still far too tiny. It seems that our leaders are hell bent on keeping the 20th century economy on life support, instead of bringing forward the 21st century system we need to create jobs, increase social welfare, promote energy and food security and to protect natural capital. We will have to change in the end, the only question is whether it will be a planned transition rich in opportunity, or whether it will be forced on us through resources scarcity and environmental change. We still have a choice, but not for much longer. That is why we need some inspired leadership for change – not more of the same with a few green knobs on.”

Jeremy Leggett, Executive Chairman, Solarcentury: “The G20 Communiqué downplayed the green new deal that has begun to feature of late in some leaders’ rhetoric. What is the point of stimulus packages if they boost carbon that fuels greenhouse warming that ends up destroying more wealth than it creates? Society needs green jobs, and the low-carbon fruits thereof, not high carbon infrastructure, and enhanced risk of runaway greenhouse warming. In all the stimulus packages to date, only South Korea seems to understand that. Their actions – 80% of funds go to low carbon activities – match their rhetoric. Messrs Brown and Mandelson have the same rhetoric as the Koreans, but that is all. In solar energy, for example, the UK’s current policies are on course to actually destroy jobs in the fastest growing clean-energy industry of them all. The politics of this situation are incomprehensible: a massive own goal, and a political gift to the Tories, in a flagship green new deal industry, right before the budget.”