The Green New Deal was first written by 9 members of the UK based Green New Deal Group who drew inspiration from President Roosevelt’s response to the Dust Bowl Crisis of the Great Depression. Those members included the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Political Economists Richard Murphy and Ann Pettifor. The New Economics Foundation first published the Green New Deal in 2008. They put it on their website but it didn’t sell. Its time hadn’t come. Then, last year, an approach was made by the US Justice Democratics during the pre-primaries. Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Their aim, in the face of the global climate change crisis was a complete transformation of the financial system in the interests of the planet and its people. They adopted the Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal’s central purpose is to put both people and the planet first. It is a both a blueprint for future action (UK, US, EU specific et al) and a growing global movement. The UK plan is for massive investment in our economic future, to create a new generation of jobs in the industries and infrastructure necessary to tackle the climate crisis. The global movement is set on demanding a new economic approach that will guarantee decent work alongside greater ownership and economic democracy.
The US Green New Deal was introduced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the House of Representatives in February. It has energized the global climate crisis debate with its twin goals of carbon neutrality by 2030 (for our planet) and the promise of jobs (for its people). The debate has been energized also by the Climate Justice Protests that have been taking place across Britain and also internationally. Including:- The Extinction Rebellion; The Youth Strikes for Climate Justice – inspired by 16 years old school pupil Greta Thunberg; and The Mothers Rise Up Protest led by eleven 11 year olds – representing the 11 years we have to act as set out by leading climate scientists in a recent UN report; and more. People want action now.
On 1st May Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion that resulted in the UK being the world’s first Parliament to declare an environment and climate emergency. This was one of the Extinction Rebellion’s 3 key demands: 1) The government must declare an “emergency” and work with “other institutions” to make changes 2) The UK must enact legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 3) A citizens’ assembly must be formed to “oversee the changes” needed to achieve this goal. The government now has 6 months to come up with a plan of action. But the Tories are not best place to take such action. The party of fracking? The party that called for getting ‘rid of the green crap’? The party that critics say have created a “hostile environment” for renewable energy that “scares away potential investors and prevents the UK from reaching its full potential”. No, if we are to take meaningful action then we need a change of government.
Labour has made a start on securing a sustainable future. The Green Manifesto; the announcement for 1.75 million homes fitted with solar panels; the eco-banking proposals; the plans for a Green Industrial Revolution. But this is a great start. And there is further to go. There is a growing movement within Labour headed by a new group called “Labour for a Green New Deal”. This group is encouraging CLPs to press for motions for Labour to adopt a Green New Deal. But the group is ambitious not JUST for Labour to adopt the Green New Deal, but also for the principles of the Green New Deal to flow deeply through Labour’s entire manifesto thereby informing a vision for transforming society.
The climate crisis commands a total rewiring of the economy. Privatisation and the market have not only failed people but have also dangerously failed to transition our economy away from fossil fuels. Profit gets in the way. Labour for a Green New Deal’s motion calls for large-scale investment and regulation to accelerate the transition to renewables whilst dismantling a rigged economy. Dismantling? How? We need a Green Industrial Revolution that expands public, democratic ownership across the whole economy. The financial crisis has woefully brought to the fore the ‘grotesque levels of inequality’ in our society (Jeremy Corbyn). Yes, this needs to be addressed but it is not enough just to roll back Tory austerity. Yes, we need decent jobs with decent wages; they need security; they need their rights ensured. But added to this, workers need a real stake in the companies they work for. We need ownership. Clause 4 in action? Ownership of the means of production? Democratising the economy and our places of work could serve as the equivalent of Thatcher’s sell off of council housing.
This is the moment to push forward with a radicalism that will be up to the job of turning around the urgent Climate Crisis AND putting paid to a failing economic system. After 10 years of crippling UK austerity, If not now then when? After the stark exposure of our planetary demise, If not now, then when? We are at the ecological and economic brink of disaster. Now is the time for transformative action.
The “Labour for a Green New Deal” Constituency Labour Party motions will go to Conference in September and hopefully be adopted by the Labour Party. Eastbourne CLP is in the process of putting a Green New Deal motion to all our members. Hopefully Eastbourne CLP will be part of the Labour for a Green New Deal movement.
NB The Climate Emergency knows no boundaries. A global response is required. Our next government needs to work globally and work fast.