Rebecca Long-Bailey: We must draw on our history to find a way through the environmental crisis that faces us. The future is no longer such a rosy place, as those who saw David Attenborough’s Climate Change: The Facts earlier this month will have realised. If you see a scientist on TV these days, they’re probably talking about the perilous state of our climate and the threat to our planet’s living systems. From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the Met Office to Nasa, some of the greatest minds of our generation are modelling the future, and their conclusions are stark. If we’re going to turn this around – and we have no choice but to turn this around – we’ll have to start by acknowledging this for what it is. Last month Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Sue Hayman, declared an environment and climate emergency on behalf of our party. Labour councils have been doing the same. And this Wednesday, Labour is leading the charge for the UK parliament to be the first in the world to formally recognise the climate emergency. Tackling this emergency is going to take something big, something on the scale of the first industrial revolution. But unlike the first industrial revolution, this must be anchored in dignity at work, social justice, equality and international solidarity. The central mission of this industrial revolution must be to stop dangerous climate change and reverse the environmental degradation kickstarted by the first. That is why Labour is calling for a green industrial revolution. Just as a new generation of democratic socialists in the US are calling for a Green New Deal, we too must draw on our history for inspiration, and appeal to the collective achievements of the past to find a way through to what will be our greatest achievement. The green industrial revolution will also bring tremendous economic opportunities. It is estimated that the energy from deep-water turbines in the North Sea could provide four times Europe’s entire electricity demand. This could be built and delivered from the UK – just like that old waterwheel. And this is not just about jobs. The green industrial revolution will make our cities livable, our natural spaces rich and alive, and our own lives satisfying and secure. It must tackle class, race, gender disparities – and deliver climate justice not just in the UK but around the world. This will not happen by itself. We will need a government that is truly representative and responsive to the public interest, willing to invest to safeguard our future, as well as unashamedly interventionist. We will need modern and participatory democratic institutions, rolling back the privatisations that have led to rip-off energy and public transport costs. Ultimately, tackling the environment and climate emergency will require the UK to reimagine its energy system, transport, agriculture, housing – its entire economy – so that it works for the many, not the few, long into the future.
Observer 27th April 2019 read more »
Labour will this week force a vote in parliament to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency as confidential documents show the government has spent only a fraction of a £100m fund allocated in 2015 to support clean air projects. Jeremy Corbyn’s party will demand on Wednesday that the country wakes up to the threat and acts with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which will require global emissions to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” before 2050. The move will place Conservative MPs under pressure to back the plan, or explain why they refuse to do so, now fears over the combined problems of air pollution and climate change have risen to the top of the political agenda. On Saturday night Corbyn said the recent wave of protests were “a massive and necessary wake-up call” that demanded “rapid and dramatic action, which only concerted government action and a green industrial revolution can deliver.” He said that if parliament backed the move and became the first national legislature to declare a climate emergency it would “trigger a wave of action from governments around the world”. The motion was welcomed by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has criticised the inaction of the world’s politicians. “It is a great first step because it sends a clear signal that we are in a crisis and that the ongoing climate and ecological crises must be our first priority,” she said. “We can not solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency. “I hope the other UK political parties join in and together pass this motion in parliament – and that political parties in other countries will follow their example.” The motion will call for new targets on the mass rollout of renewable and low carbon energy and transport, proper funding of environmental protection, reversing species decline and developing plans to move towards a zero waste economy. The plan comes as confidential minutes of a government advisory group obtained by the Observer show how all but a small proportion of a £100m pot allocated to Highways England to combat air pollution “on and near our roads” in 2015 has not been spent, despite a 2020 deadline.
Observer 27th April 2019 read more »
MPs will vote on Wednesday whether to declare an environmental and climate emergency following mass protests over political inaction in addressing the crisis. Labour will force a Commons vote on the issue, one of the key demands of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement, whose activists paralysed parts of London in previous weeks. Jeremy Corbyn said he hoped other countries would follow if the UK Parliament became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.
Herald 28th April 2019 read more »
Independent 28th April 2019 read more »