Government absolutely must kick start the Green Industrial Revolution or it will not happen Sarah Church
Listening to student striker Joe Brindle speak with passion about how his generation don’t just need us to listen to them about stopping climate change, but need us to act now, was powerful. This panel was a cross-party (Green, Liberal Democrat, Labour) one brought together by Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP in the South West, where we explored the pressing need for, and practical solutions to, leading with a Green New Deal in the South West. We were joined by a trade unionist and a renewable energy expert explaining the central role of communities and working people to addressing the climate emergency.
For me the foundation stone is this: we are citizens not consumers. I grew up in the 1980s and consumerism has been a way of life for 40 years, but it’s imperative that every time I buy or eat something, or use energy for transport or to turn on the light, I understand the cost of my actions and what I should do to ensure that all my choices are made with a full understanding of their impact. When I pick up an item in a shop I need to know how to dispose of it and its packaging properly, when I turn on the TV I need to know how much energy I am using and where it comes from, and when I get in my car I need to know what that choice means.
This isn’t going to happen if I have to do this alone. We need all of society to find the path of least resistance in choosing the least carbon intensive options. Our energy must come from a renewable source and be owned by the community – co-operatives will be the future of the energy sector. Our transport system should be based around an integrated public transport network that makes using it’s green-powered vehicles the obvious choice. Cycling and walking through the town centre should be the only option for those of us who are able.
Food and farming will require a step change. I recently chatted with the Vice President of the National Farmers’ Union to hear their Net Zero plan. While I do not think their time frame is ambitious enough, I do believe that local and sustainable food production on farms where carbon can be sequestered and biodiversity encouraged, will be integral to the Green New Deal. In Wiltshire, 78.5% of our land is commercially farmed- our potential carbon sink is huge!
And this is all based on social justice. Fighting climate change requires a systemic overhaul of work, production and lifestyle. We, as the 5th largest economy on the planet, cannot carry on as we are in the face of huge global inequality. In the UK, we cannot simply hope that the markets will carry society forward to net zero without designing the jobs of the future for the working classes. Government investment into public-private joint ventures is essential to secure the infrastructure of the future and transition our carbon-intensive jobs to green jobs. This is a huge project that needs serious commitment. Labour has promised a Green Industrial Revolution to deliver the Green New Deal based on 400,000 jobs and a doubling of the co-operative economy.
You can read our Shadow BEIS Secretary’s speech from the 2019 Labour Party Conference here: https://labour.org.uk/press/rebecca-long-bailey-speaking-labour-party-conference/
You can read our Shadow DEFRA Secretary’s speech here: https://labour.org.uk/press/sue-hayman-speaking-labour-party-conference/