While the government collapses over Brexit, Labour activists have a plan to transform Britain

Green New Deal event with University of Warwick Labour Society
Chris Jarvis

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Brexit is the only thing happening in the UK right now. We’ve had endless coverage of the government’s slow-burning implosion while everything else has been pushed to the sidelines.

But a group of Labour activists is building a plan to transform Britain while the government collapses.

On March 22, Labour for a Green New Deal launched. This group is seeking to “transform the economy through unprecedented investment in technology, infrastructure and people”. To do so, it wants Labour to support a Green New Deal in the UK. This could be a complete game changer for the battle against climate change and social injustice.

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What is a Green New Deal?

The group’s launch comes after Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez popularised the concept in the USA. The youth climate campaign Sunrise Movement proposed similar ideas. And it also has roots in ideas of the New Economics Foundation in the UK, supported by Caroline Lucas.

The Green New Deal is a radical set of policies aimed at quickly decarbonising the economy. This would include rapidly phasing out fossil fuels. It would also require investment in technology, infrastructure and jobs that help the transition to a zero carbon economy. Infrastructure and technology around renewables are central to this.

In a series of articles, Labour for a Green New Deal has set out its vision. Writing in the Guardian, Angus Satow explained:

A Green New Deal in the UK would see millions of good climate jobs created in an expanded renewable sector, insulating homes and building new infrastructure.

Reframing the debate

Chris Saltmarsh writing for Labour List also explored what a Green New Deal would look like. He laid out clearly the vision for it in the UK:

Our vision is…based on public ownership and democratic control of industry. It will build solidarity across borders to internationalise our ambitions. It will include the comprehensive provision of universal basic services to meet everybody’s needs – from food to health and childcare to education and transport – and act as a foundation from which to collectively build a prosperous new society.

These proposals seek to reframe the debate on climate change. The Green New Deal isn’t centred around individual lifestyle changes or regulation of private companies. Instead, it seeks to transform our society and economy – not only to protect the environment  – but to extend democracy and tackle inequality.

High profile support

The ideas coming out of Labour for a Green New Deal could be a game changer. The group is carving out a path which could see radical solutions to climate change becoming mainstream.

The group has already received support from high profile individuals in the Labour Party, including from those responsible for climate change policies in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and ministerial team.

Clive Lewis tweeted his support:

He was also joined by Rebecca Long-Bailey:

These endorsements build on work Long-Bailey and Lewis have already done. Both Long-Bailey and Lewis have spoken at events calling for a Green New Deal in the UK. Their support is crucial. High profile supporters will help get these proposals adopted as Labour policy.

The strength of the campaign

But the strength of Labour for a Green New Deal goes deeper than its ability to win over senior party figures. Its strength lies in its skilled organisers who have a strong track record of winning climate campaigns. Many of them cut their teeth in the student fossil fuel divestment movement. That movement has played a key role in bringing climate justice issues into the mainstream.

Importantly, Labour for a Green New Deal also has a clear plan for shifting Labour policy. It’s calling on activists to use Labour’s democratic structures and lobby Labour MPs, parliamentary candidates and councillors to endorse it.

This is the first time an organised group within Labour has pushed a radical approach to tackle climate change. And it means these ideas could end up as part of a major political party’s manifesto.

If they’re successful, the next Labour government could oversee a total transformation of our society. And it could help tackle climate change in the process. Let’s hope they are.

Featured image via University of Warwick Labour Society.

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    1. What wonderful news and what a change it will bring to the environment and people’s lives. (I just hope they seek expert advice from our very own expert on the ecology, Mr. Gove).

      Will they please find the time and energy to include proportional representation voting in their manifesto. Most other modern societies have this and it is time we adopted this system too. Yes, it would mean that persons such as Farage and Le Penn (in France) would perhaps gain a seat or two but at least they would be out in the open, not lurking under a rock someplace. Other countries have learned how to adapt to the presents of extreme factions in their parliaments and we would too.

      Again, what good news. This group could put the ‘Great’ back into Britain.

    2. The problem is that if we crash out of the EU with no deal or Teresa Mayhem’s bad deal, a left wing Labour government would be sanctioned in the same way that Venezuela and Iran have been. If we want Socialism in Britain we have to stay in the EU.

    3. Very late in the day a large part of the left have embraced the idea of “Green New Deals” – making an analogy to the response to the Depression of the 1930s with an idea that with greater state expenditure a huge effort can be put into developing the infrastructure of an economy based on renewable energy and a decarbonised energy system. Unfortunately there appears to be little recognition that such a Green New Deal must address a much bigger set of issues than merely climate change. It will be taking place in the context of a contractionary dynamic brought about by overshoot past the limits to growth.

      For any new deal to be helpful and not add to the ecological chaos it must take into account:

      1, A recognition that the low energy yield of renewable energy systems means that these are relatively expensive forms of energy that are not reliable because there are, as yet, no affordable means for long term electrical energy storage on a grid scale. It is possible to store energy to buffer and even out hour by hour fluctuations in power brought about by intermittent sunshine and wind. However season by season fluctuations have as yet no affordable solutions and industry has been trying to improve batteries for over a hundred years. An economy that relies only on renewable energy sources would be intermittent and expensive– as was the case before the industrial revolution. There is thus an issue of who is to pay and how they are to afford future energy. The burden must fall on the rich as they will be the only ones who can afford to pay.

      2. Mineral and energy sources needed as inputs for the construction of “green technologies” (turbines, solar panels, car batteries etc) are in increasingly short supply. An economy with electrical vehicles powered by renewable energy would involve ramping up the production of EVs by 100 times by 2030 (which is the current EU target). Corresponding to this would be an increased demand for prouduction inputs of cobalt, lithium and nickel and copper to build the electrical vehicles. However at 100 times the demand world cobalt resources would be exhausted in 8 months, lithium in 5 years; nickel in 4 months and copper in 5 months.

      3. Paradoxically a Green New Deal would take place in the context also of energy minerals depletion. It has become more expensive to extract coal, oil and gas from harder to get at sources – but users of coal oil and gas cannot afford to pay the rising costs of extraction and many fossil fuel companies are heading to bankruptcy. This is particularly true of fracked oil and gas in the USA where Wall Street has finally lost patience at the lack of profitability and finance is drying up. This is important to a Green New Deal as to maunfacture solar panels, wind turbines and the like energy from fossil fuel energy sources is needed until there are enough renewable enery systems in existence – which is a long way off. Only about 3% of global energy is from wind and solar. If an increasing part of fossil energy production is set aside to build renewable energy systems then consumption of fossil fuels for other purposes will have to be throttled back even more drastically. As one author put’s it: “But here’s the rub. The construction of that shiny new infrastructure requires not just money, but…energy. And that’s the very commodity in short supply. Will we really be willing to sacrifice additional energy in the short term—effectively steepening the decline—for a long-term energy plan? It’s a trap!

      4. Slogans like calling for a “Green Industrial Revolution” miss the fact that a greater priority is a Green Agrarian Revolution. Humanity has already overshot a safe level of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to suck greenhouse gases out. The only credible (affordable) options for “draw down” of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere is into biomass and soils which means programmes of different kinds of land management and cultivation using different practices. It’s not industrial jobs that need to be created but land jobs.

      5. Creating jobs and investment leads to further expenditure when people spend their increased income – without additional mechanisms this is likely to include expenditure further expanding “bads” – as well as goods – undoing whatever environmental benefits have been done (eg people spend their increased incomt to fly off on holidays with increased aviation emissions plus the impacts on the ecology of the places they go to ).

      6. Non climate planetary boundraries like biodiversity collapse and loss of topsoils must be addressed simultaneously. Otherwise there will be other types of crises like the extinction of pollinating insects and animals and fertility collapse. This also means a focus on different approaches to land management – which is also vital too if drought and flooding are to be managed by different practices to make soil and land better able to hold moisture. For the same reasons responses to avert a danger of fire will require different approaches to land management.

      7. Well meaning ideas like the fact that we should all be on a vegan diet are not as straightforward as they seem. It is true that feeding crops to people rather than to animals and then eating the animals is more energy efficient when we are moving away from factory farming and fodder fed animals. However the depletion of fossil fuels and their increased expense will be a serious problem for arable farming because of the heavy reliance of tractors motivated by fossil energy – and the added problems where petrochemical fertilisers and pesticides suddenly start to be in short supply. Some land is likely to be left fallow and the obvious thing to do is graze cattle on it. Animals can also be walked to local markets and their dung helps recreate soil fertility. A regrowth of grazing land also creates better conditions for bio-diversity revival.

      Conclusion – the Green New Deal if presented as a way of investing in energy techno-fixes is a misleading panacea. If seen as a start of a dialogue about a wide ranging transformation of society it might be helpful. The trouble is that trying to win elections and get voted in politicians seem incapable of selling themselves with complicated messages that are honest about important caveats…

    4. While the government collapses over Brexit, Labour activists have a plan to transform Britain
      Come on Mr Corbyn where is our G.E. to remove shameless + arrogant,
      Tory Govt ???”I am a free voter as you know Mr Corbyn by way of my email
      “I send you SIR plus by way or public platforms “I use every day.
      //
      As free voter “I have No party ties to any party in power or out of power
      plus pay No fees to any party to vote.
      posted this today below!
      On Tory problem coming to a head now within Tory Govt itself.
      “I Would like a Labour M.P. or Mr. Corbyn to reply to this post please,
      remembering we have local area May election coming up in 2019.
      ////
      /////
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/
      LINK to post 24.3.2019

      Theresa May given ultimatum by Tories,
      Fix Brexit in 19 days or quit
      ///
      Just some true FACTs for all Tory party members
      From a free voter that as No ties to any party in power or out of power but can the change vote,
      outcome in any election by hard work + the truth only.
      //
      LOOK Nigel Evans
      The P.M. jobs is not your “forget it!!
      ///
      What should happen now Tory party members is a G.E. in June ,Or July 2019 and we voters will Get rid of Ms May Your, unelected Prime Minister by a public vote(We did not vote for her at all)
      ///
      So let’s have a new G.E. we voter will get shut of all of Tory Govt from power and “I can confirm the Young voters— You Tory members prevented from going on their future with in the E.U.27 will be voting freely unimpeded by Tory Govt member denying their right to vote in 2016 referendum on E.U. leaving.
      //
      Mr. Nigel Evans, they have Not forgot you Tory party member betraying them + stopping them voting
      On their future with E.U. the price you will pay is kicked out of power again.
      And while out of power you Tory party members can pick a new leader, “I politely say ONE with some brains before a new G.E. is called after you lose power in 2019.
      (BYE -BYE Tory Govt!!!)

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