Neglect of the north and the climate emergency are two problems in search of a common solution. A debate about how we reshape the post-pandemic economy should be welcomed, even if it is coming from the Tory benches. Across the globe, the coronavirus has underlined how states can mobilise vast resources to confront an unprecedented crisis when the will is there. While the virus has required the suppression of economic activity, the climate emergency seeks to reorientate that activity away from fatally harming the only home our species has. That means replacing the skilled, secure jobs stripped away from northern communities by deindustrialisation. If tackling the climate crisis becomes associated with undermining jobs, then public consent will be lost. Britain is rightly lauded as a world leader in offshore wind power, which powers over 7.5m British homes a year: on current trends, it will generate a third of our electricity. But here is the catch: the components for those wind farms are built abroad – for example, as former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown highlights, in Indonesia – meaning local jobs are confined to maintenance. Combine this with justified outrage at Cumbria county council’s approval of a new mine which will create 500 jobs, and you see the problem: any economic proposals which threaten employment will test public patience.
Guardian 29th Oct 2020 read more »