‘Global wildlife populations have collapsed by nearly 60% in our lifetimes.’ Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Faced with unprecedented challenges, politicians appear more divided than ever – that’s why Labour’s Clive Lewis and I are doing something bold. We are jointly tabling a bill in parliament designed to address two of the greatest threats we face – climate breakdown and spiralling inequality. Our bill would introduce a “green new deal” – an unprecedented mobilisation of resources invested to prevent climate breakdown, reverse inequality, and heal our communities. It demands major structural changes in our approach to the ecosystem, coupled with a radical transformation of the finance sector and the economy, to deliver both social justice and a livable planet.It’s an idea congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has recently reinvigorated in the US. And it could scarcely be more urgent. The UN’s top scientists have warned we have just 11 years to halve global emissions and avoid climate catastrophe. Global wildlife populations have collapsed by nearly 60% in our lifetimes. This has led 1.4 million young people to join the inspiring global school strikes movement to demand change. The response from ministers? To continue to force fracking on local communities, and to hand millions in tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry. Last week, unbelievably, a new coal mine was given a green-light on their watch.
The UK is also host to grotesque levels of inequality. More than 4 million children are living in poverty. Two-thirds of the country’s highest earners live in London and the south-east, while northern areas have been hit hardest by austerity and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says incomes of the poorest 20% fell in 2018. The prime minister’s announcement that austerity is coming to an end was a lie. Benefits for the poorest remain frozen, millions are still struggling to get by on universal credit, and headteachers are still having to cut crucial staff to keep the lights on in our schools.
The response to these crises must be nothing short of a transformation of our economy, our environment and our constituents’ lives.
The green new deal would launch an unprecedented programme of investment in clean energy, warm homes, affordable public transport, sustainable farming, and restored natural habitats – delivering a decent, well-paid job to everyone who wants one. It would force the government to finally start paying attention to once proud communities that have been hollowed out through de-industrialisation and austerity – and empower them to take up the opportunities of new zero-carbon industries. This once-in-a-lifetime government intervention would involve a 10-year strategy to completely and rapidly decarbonise our economy – as well as massively reduce economic inequality. MORE
Mozambique Is Drowning. Nebraska Has Flooded. We Need a Green New Deal.