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.
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:
— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) March 22, 2019
He was also joined by Rebecca Long-Bailey:
Exciting to see a grassroots push for a transformative green agenda to tackle climate change and revitalise our economy. Hope to announce some exciting new policies soon. Watch this space! https://t.co/u3vCSh7nnD
— Rebecca Long-Bailey (@RLong_Bailey) March 22, 2019
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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