Redcar is bang in the middle of Britain’s climate debate. At one end of the seafront promenade, on the lip of the Tees Estuary, rests the rusting hulk of this town’s industrial past, the former steelworks. Just a mile out to sea stand symbols of its future: thirty offshore wind turbines opened by EDF in 2014. Around the bay you can hear the clunking echoes of the iconic steel mill being demolished to make way for a hydrogen, carbon capture, and wind turbine manufacturing hub, part-financed by the taxpayer. It is places like Redcar that some Conservatives think will revolt if ministers introduce green taxes or ask consumers to switch to eco-friendly products as the UK pursues net zero by 2050. Voters in the Red Wall will “roll their eyes” at the “idealism” of net zero, one MP said earlier this month. Others, including the think tank I run, have found evidence that Red Wall towns stand to benefit most from the green jobs and investment that could follow if ministers get policies right, as Redcar’s recent experience attests. Redcar suggests to me that the politics of net zero are hard, but far from impossible. MPs have a point: the Government does need to be cautious not to overburden ordinary taxpayers, or penalise those who faithfully followed previous advice. But that must not come at the cost of action, or the jobs recovery in places like Redcar will be stillborn. It’s a narrow corridor, but it is there.
Telegraph 21st Aug 2021 read more »
Letter Natalie Bennett: Robin McKie writes of a “society-wide vision” covering policies in transport, power generation, home heating and farming to cut climate emissions (“It’s now… or never”, Focus). Of course we need all of those policies. But what’s missing is the understanding that we can’t have “business as usual with different technology”. We need social innovations, such as a universal basic income to give every individual security, a four-day working week as standard with no loss of pay, which would reduce travel but more importantly give people more opportunities to use their time well in family and community, and a relocalisation of communities and economies. System change, not climate change is the slogan: that you can’t fix a broken society using the approaches that broke it the key understanding.
Observer 22nd Aug 2021 read more »