British politics is being influenced by the fight against climate change as never before, from the high-profile protests of Extinction Rebellion, which start again today, to the Labour Party’s shift towards a more radical environmental policy at their recent conference. In October last year the international climate science community said we only had until 2030 to take “rapid and far-reaching” action to change our economies to avoid a dangerously heated planet. Since then we’ve seen the emergence of Extinction Rebellion on to our streets, declarations by public authorities of climate emergencies, new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s promotion of a Green New Deal in the United States, and the Swedish school strike leader Greta Thunberg demanding more ambitious climate policy at the European parliament and the United Nations. Come September of this year and the grassroots group of Labour activists, Labour for a Green New Deal, successfully campaigned for the party to vote in favour of a Socialist Green New Deal at their conference in Brighton. The news was welcomed by environmentalists but some Greens expressed frustration at Labour taking credit for supporting the package of measures, given that we have been promoting it for well over ten years. The rivalry between Labour and Greens on the ratcheting up of ambition has been particularly pronounced. The Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley was pressed on Radio 4’s Today about how the Greens’ Green New Deal compared to Labour’s. He said the Greens’ was more ambitious and noted both Labour and the government’s support for airport expansion, saying “we are the only ones with a credible plan to get to net zero by 2030”. Labour does need to reconcile its internal tensions on the environment. Even though good progress has been made by environmentalists in Labour, a broad group of Labour voters, including some trade unionists and Old Labour supporters, still want to pursue expansion of the fossil fuel industry. Regardless of Labour needing to come to terms with its position on the climate emergency, and the prime minister having only recently campaigned against renewable energy, the collective shift towards needing to sound more green should be welcomed by everyone.
Times 7th Oct 2019 read more »