Michael Jacobs: UK Labour’s Green New Deal is among most radical in world – but can it be done by 2030? The Labour motion calls for the repeal of all “anti-union laws” and the public ownership of the energy and transport systems. In other words, the GND has a much broader purpose than just emissions reduction. It represents, for many of its supporters, both a symbol and a vehicle for the radical transformation of the economy. The problem is that the 2030 date the conference motion has set to achieve net-zero emissions is one which no serious climate policy expert thinks is either technologically or politically feasible. The independent Committee on Climate Change recommended that net zero could be achieved in the UK by 2050. Parliament has since put this into statute under the Climate Change Act. Labour activists argue that the UK should act faster than other countries because of its historic emissions and to allow developing countries to set later target dates. But even Friends of the Earth are only confident that the UK could reach net zero by 2045. Labour certainly wants to create green jobs as fast as possible. Investing in energy-efficient and solar-powered homes, expanding onshore and offshore wind, accelerating the introduction of electric vehicles, a huge programme of tree planting and habitat restoration are all likely to figure in the party’s manifesto. And, as economist Ann Pettifor has demonstrated in a new book, this is all affordable. With real interest rates negative, the government can sensibly borrow for much of it, and co-invest with the private sector through its proposed National Investment Bank for the rest. There is no question that activists on both sides of the Atlantic have won a huge victory in forcing the climate debate onto the territory of economic justice. But if they are to change the world, radical symbolism isn’t enough. The Green New Deal must become a serious programme for government.
Renew Economy 27th Sept 2019 read more »