On Tuesday, the Institute for Public Policy Research launches its Environmental Justice Commission (EJC) and people are coming together across Conservative, Labour and Green parties to serve on it – leading figures from business, academia, civil society, trade unions, youth and climate activism.
Ed Miliband, Labour MP for Doncaster North and a former leader of the Labour party; Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and Laura Sandys, a former Conservative MP for South Thanet, have written about this and many readers’ comments are well worth reading. Important points made are summarised below
Too often the issue of climate change seems marginal to the public’s concerns, when it is in fact central.
This will be done by committing to a Green New Deal (GND), with an unprecedented mobilisation and deployment of resources to tackle the accelerating climate crisis and transform our economy and society for all. Read more on the Green New Deal website.
Its aims are to:
- mobilise a carbon army of workers to retrofit and insulate homes, cutting bills, reducing emissions and making people’s lives better
- move to sustainable forms of transport and zero-carbon vehicles as quickly as possible, saving thousands of lives from air pollution
- end the opposition to onshore wind power and position ourselves as a global centre of excellence for renewable manufacturing
- protect and restore threatened habitats and
- secure major transitions in agriculture and diets that are essential if we are to meet our obligations.
People have been asking how we can revive communities that have been left out of prosperity. They ask whether they and their children will be able to get work and also what the quality of that work will be and what skills will be needed. ECJ believes GND has the potential to do this.
The areas of policy mentioned above answer the immediate economic concerns of people for jobs and hope. Green jobs must be secure and decently paid, with a central role for trade unions in a just transition for all workers and communities affected.
The commission will aim to help the UK to take a lead, believing that there is economic and societal advantage in doing so. An increasing number of people, young and old, see that the way we run our economy is damaging our climate, our environment and our society, but that, crucially, it is within our power to change it for the better. And change it we must.
A year ago, Colin Hines and Jonathon Porritt challenged the “permanent propping up of whole sectors of our economy as a direct result of our failure to train people properly here in the UK”.
They called for the training of enough IT experts, doctors, nurses and carers from our own population to “prevent the shameful theft of such vital staff from the poorer countries which originally paid for their education”.
Mass migration from developing countries deprives those places of the young, enterprising, dynamic citizens they desperately need at home
Dependence on the free movement of peoples as practised in the UK is the opposite of internationalism, since it implies that we will continue to employ workers from other countries in agriculture and service industries and steal doctors, nurses, IT experts etc from poorer countries, rather than train enough of our own.
Many individuals who migrate have experienced multiple stresses that can impact their mental well-being
Professor Dinesh Bhugrah is an authority on the stresses of migration. Years of research have revealed that the rates of mental illness are increased in some migrant groups. Stresses include the loss of the familiar, including language (especially colloquial and dialect), attitudes, values, loss of cultural norms, religious customs, social structures and support networks.
Porritt and Hines advocate – like former Chancellor Merkel – a redoubling of our commitments to improve people’s economic and social prospects in their own countries, tackling the root causes of why people feel they have no choice but to leave family, friends and communities in the first place.
They advocate the replacement of the so-called free market with an emphasis on rebuilding local economies . . . dramatically lessening the need for people to emigrate in the first case. Hines gives a route to localization in his classic: Localization: a global manifesto, pages 63-67.
The seven basic steps to be introduced, over a suitable transition period are:
- Reintroduction of protective safeguards for domestic economies (tariffs, quotas etc);
- a site-here-to-sell-here policy for manufacturing and services domestically or regionally;
- localising money so that the majority stays within its place of origin;
- enforcing a local competition policy to eliminate monopolies from the more protected economies;
- introduction of resource taxes to increase environmental improvements and help fund the transition to Protect the Local, Globally;
- increased democratic involvement both politically and economically to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the movement to more diverse local economies;
- reorientation of the end goals of aid and trade rules so that they contribute to the rebuilding of local economies and local control, particularly through the global transfer of relevant information and technology.
Since that book was written, a gifted group of people set out the Green New Deal which – though aimed initially at transforming the British economy – is valid for all countries and most urgently needed in the poorest countries from which people feel impelled to emigrate.
Funded by fairer taxes, savings, government expenditure and if necessary green quantitative easing, it addresses the need to develop ‘green energy’ and ‘energy-proofing’ buildings, creating new jobs, a reliable energy supply and slowing down the rate of climate change.
Senator Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest person ever to be elected in Congress, now advocate a Green New Deal in the US.
Professor John Roberts, in one of the newsletters posted on http://www.jrmundialist.org/ says: “Increasingly my thoughts return to the overwhelming need for all of us to think (and then act) as world citizens, conscious of a primary loyalty not to our local nationalism but to the human race (however confused and divided) as a whole”.
Jonathon Porritt quotes Alistair Sawday: “I remembered that the skills and the policies to reverse the damage are there; it is a matter of will – and of all of us waking up.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, which has developed urges all to work to “…Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals. Unity is our path. Our future depends on it.” –
Jeremy Corbyn addressed the General Assembly at the United Nations Geneva headquarters last year. He concluded:
“The world’s economy can and must deliver for the common good and the majority of its people. . . But let us be clear: the long-term answer is genuine international cooperation based on human rights, which confronts the root causes of conflict, persecution and inequality . . . The world demands the UN Security Council responds, becomes more representative and plays the role it was set up to on peace and security. We can live in a more peaceful world. The desire to help create a better life for all burns within us. Governments, civil society, social movements and international organisations can all help realise that goal. We need to redouble our efforts to create a global rules based system that applies to all and works for the many, not the few.
“With solidarity, calm leadership and cooperation we can build a new social and economic system with human rights and justice at its core, deliver climate justice and a better way to live together on this planet, recognise the humanity of refugees and offer them a place of safety. Work for peace, security and understanding. The survival of our common humanity requires nothing less”.
The £275bn created by quantitative easing rebuilt banks’ balance sheets and funded commodity speculation, instead of being used for constructive purposes as advocated by Professor Richard Werner and Green MP, Caroline Lucas, in a recent post.
Another adverse consequence was highlighted yesterday, when the Financial Times reported that more than a million savers face further cuts to their pension income, following this week’s decision by the Bank of England to resume its “quantitative easing” [QE] programme.
Advisers warned that by driving up the price of the government bonds issued, the Bank would depress their yields – which determine how much income can be generated from a pension fund. Financial services group Saga estimates that since QE started in March 2009, the income paid by pension annuities has fallen by a quarter.
It would be socially and economically beneficial to ensure that interest on savings never falls below the inflation rate and that pension funds and other savings are used to build a modern, green economy and bring a fair return.
Sabine McNeill comments on the last post that Professor Werner’s Green New Deal proposal is similar to the Green Credit for Green Purposes EDM put before parliament in 2006, adding: “Except that QE is still interest-bearing ‘credit’ rather than interest-free ‘cash’!”
MP Austin Mitchell calls on the Government to use the power of public credit for public purposes
Early day motion 408: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/408 – spaced clauses for easier reading:
PUBLIC CREDIT FOR PUBLIC PURPOSES
Date tabled: 05.12.2006
Primary sponsor: Mitchell, Austin
That this House, knowing that enormous sums of money are necessary to improve public services, build a better infrastructure and provide for the well-being of the people,
and recognising that further huge additional expenditure will now be necessary to combat global warming, reduce carbon emissions and make public buildings, housing and transport carbon neutral,
points out that there is no prospect of raising such huge but necessary sums through normal channels of taxation and borrowing;
therefore suggests that the time has come to supplement these by using the power of public credit to increase the amount of publicly-funded money,
particularly since this has fallen from 20% of the money supply in 1964 to 3% today because the banks have largely taken the issue of credit and taken the seigneurage arising from credit creation for themselves;
and calls on the Government to use the power of public credit for public purposes, particularly for the huge expenditure necessary to finance the development of carbon neutrality in a good society.
Time for change!
Bad decisions by government – 21: £275bn created by quantitative easing rebuilt banks’ balance sheets and funded commodity speculation
Professor Richard Werner advocates an economically, socially and environmentally beneficial use of quantitative easing
As the news breaks that the Bank of England is to extend its quantitative easing by £50bn this year to buy government-issued bonds, Professor Richard Werner, Director of the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development at the University of Southampton, advocates a better use for the money.
Economist Richard Werner, who proposed the term “quantitative easing” in Japan in the 1990s, and Caroline Lucas MP, of the Green New Deal Group, are calling for a £70 billion programme of “Green Quantitative Easing” in order to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and set the country on course for a transition to a genuinely green economy. In a report launched today, Professor Werner makes the case that Green QE can reach parts of the economy that traditional QE has failed to do, making a real difference in terms of jobs and the environment.
He said that the £200bn of QE1 announced in 2009 and the £75bn of QE2 largely ended up with the banks in the futile hope that it would result in a substantial increase in UK lending to business. Instead it was used to rebuild their balance sheets and invest in commodity speculation:
“To ensure that this does not happen again, we need a different kind of QE, to help the wider economy directly and to implement some badly needed green projects that would enhance the sustainability of the economy and improve the environment—as well as creating thousands of new jobs.”
The Green New Deal group has called for Green QE to initially spend up to £20 billion on fitting free solar PV for the occupants of the roughly 3 million south facing roofs, best suited to capture the maximum amount of energy. Based on last year’s figures when around 20,000 installation jobs were created putting PV on 150,000 dwellings, a million home a year programme would eventually create 140,000 jobs. If that were to be extended to all the potential 9 million homes that could benefit from PV installation at a cost of up to £55 billion, then the employment growth would be much larger still. The households involved would save up to £250 per annum in reduced electricity bills.
A further £16 billion of Green QE could be spent kick-starting the Government’s Green Deal energy efficiency programme for homes. The Government expects this to support at least 65,000 jobs in insulation and construction by 2015. Local authorities, many of whom are already involved in planning to make tens of thousands more local homes energy efficient, could access a QE Green Deal fund to initially finance such work.
Professor Richard Werner concluded:
“These are exceptional times and they call for exceptional action from the Bank of England.
Colin Hines, Convenor of the Green New Deal Group, agrees with Mervyn King in the Guardian today: the UK is looking over an economic abyss (Britain in grip of ‘worst ever financial crisis’, 7 October).
However experience has led Hines to say that, “giving greedy, tight-fisted banks a further £75bn, in the hope that this time they will lend enough to business is a fantasy”.
Quantitative easing should instead have been used to increase economic activity and hence jobs and business opportunities.
Will Plan B kickstart the economy?
Had the Bank of England used a substantial percentage of the £75bn to finance a green new deal to make all UK buildings energy efficient, this would have created hundreds of thousands of jobs where people actually live.
Hines ends: “King admits he will probably need a QE3, but to be third-time lucky he should make it a green QE3. It could even be nicknamed plan B.”
Read more here.