Green New Deals

December 2020

A 'Green Industrial Revolution' for the UK?

On the fifth anniversary of the 2015 COP25 Paris climate agreement Boris Johnson promoted his plan for a 10-point 'Green Industrial Revolution' for the UK - as a combination of climate change response and coronavirus recovery plan - in a speech to the 'Climate Ambition Summit' hosted jointly by the UK, France and the UN on 12 December.  When the plan was announced in November Johnson wrote in the Financial Times (17 November)

"Now is the time to plan for a green recovery with high-skilled jobs that give people the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make the country cleaner, greener and more beautiful.

"Imagine Britain when a Green Industrial Revolution has helped to level up the country. You cook breakfast using hydrogen power before getting in your electric car, having charged it overnight from batteries made in the Midlands.

"Around you the air is cleaner; trucks, trains, ships and planes run on hydrogen or synthetic fuel. British towns and regions — Teesside, Port Talbot, Merseyside and Mansfield — are now synonymous with green technology and jobs. This is where Britain’s ability to make hydrogen and capture carbon pioneered the decarbonisation of transport, industry and power."

Government press release    on plan announcement 18 November

Full text of the plan

The ten points of the plan are Offshore wind, Hydrogen, Nuclear, Electric vehicles, Public transport, Jet Zero and greener maritime, Homes and public buildings, Carbon capture, Nature, Innovation and finance.

Press reaction has been neutral to mildly sceptical, with many commentators noting that the proposed spend of £12bn - much of it already committed - is grossly insufficient in relation to the aim of achieving net zero by 2050, and the hope of attracting three times that amount from the private sector and creating 250,000 'green' jobs over-optimistic.

The Guardian offers a detailed review of each of the key areas of the plan, with the warning that  "some of the objectives are likely to be difficult to reach, and the plan has been criticised for a lack of ambition in key areas."
The Guardian  17 November
Fiona Harvey,  Environment correspondent

Mike Childs, head of policy Friends of the Earth, is quoted (in, 18 November), as saying
“Despite a number of positive commitments, the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan falls far short of the ambitious policy overhaul needed to demonstrate real global leadership on the climate crisis. A much bolder approach is needed if the UK is to create the hundreds of thousands of new green jobs and other benefits that building a cleaner, safer future will bring."

The most fiercely sceptical reaction - "Boris’s green industrial revolution is doomed to fail" - came from The Spectator (which Mr Johnson once edited) on 21 November.
"Boris Johnson's ‘green industrial revolution’, which was announced this week, looks doomed from the outset. From our heating to how we transport food, the proposals would mean a complete overhaul in the way we live. Yet barely a word has been said about the immense practical difficulties involved in Johnson’s ten-point plan for Britain to go carbon neutral by 2050. Make no mistake, it will be close to impossible to achieve – and even trying could prove catastrophic."


November 2019

Calls for action in 'Green New Deal' proposals

Two separate sets of  'Green New Deal' proposals for Scotland were unveiled in 2019. The Scottish Green Party's campaign was launched by four of their MSPs in August, and the think tank Common Weal's plan  'Our Common Home' was launched in November 2018 and was presented by Director Robin McAlpine at an event in Inverness on 3 December 2019.

Common Weal

CLIMATE EMERGENCY!  We don’t need more targets that won’t be met but A PLAN for URGENT ACTION and HERE IT IS!…

'OUR COMMON HOME' - COMMON WEAL’s Green New Deal for Scotland - The world’s first comprehensive and costed plan to put a Green New Deal into action…NOW!

The plan was launched in November 2019 and presented by Common Weal Director Robin McAlpine at a well-attended event in Inverness on 3 December.   (Watch the video.)

As a follow-up to this event local group InverYESs held a Study for Action Session at the Impact Hub in Inverness on 9 January.  This was attended by a group of about twenty people from various backgrounds and an interesting discussion took place.  A question which was raised but not discussed - far less resolved - was how the very ambitious proposals in the Common Home plan might actually be implemented - a question which refers back to our TBI discussion at Fortrose Cafe last autumn on the topic  'How do we get from here to there?'

We are likely to hear a lot more about the Common Home plan during 2020.

'Common Home' plan overview
Detailed briefing
'Common Home' plan in full  (PDF download, 90 pages)
The Herald 10 November 2019   Martin Williams
Open Demogracy 19 November 2018  Craig Dalzell. 


Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Green New Deal would use every lever available to the Scottish Government to respond to the challenges of outrageous inequality, growing poverty, and the climate emergency with the urgency that is needed.

This means

  • Rebuilding the public sector, providing long-term certainty for the private sector
  • Channelling investment into low-carbon industries to transition energy and manufacturing
  • Regional industrial strategies to target support to those who need it most
  • Green and integrated public transport
  • Restoring the natural environment by reforming land ownership and farming subsidies
  • A housing revolution to ensure warm and affordable homes

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “We are in a climate emergency and so Scotland needs to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. It is vital we do this in a way which creates thousands of quality jobs and improves people’s lives.

“We need to fundamentally reform our economy so that it serves the people of Scotland and our planet.

“That means the Scottish Government using every power available, including rebuilding a public sector that has been weakened, sold off and made to serve the interests of big business by successive governments.

“It’s time to turn that around so that publicly owned banks, energy companies and other institutions can play a big and direct role in building a green economy, just like happens in many European countries.

“The climate emergency requires an emergency response."

Background to the Green New Deal
Plan launched 30 August 2019
The Plan in detail  (PDF, 24 pages)


UK 'Green New Deal' Bill

UK Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill 

What has become known as the 'Green New Deal Bill', a Private Member's Bill sponsored by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, received its first reading without debate in July 2020, and is due to come before Parliament for second reading on 12 March 2021.

The preamble to the bill describes it as

A Bill to place duties on the Secretary of State to decarbonise the United Kingdom economy and to reverse inequality; to establish a ten-year economic and public investment strategy in accordance with those duties which promotes a community- and employee-led transition from high-carbon to low- and zero-carbon industry; to require the Government to report on its adherence to the strategy; to establish higher environmental standards for air, water and green spaces; to make provision to protect and restore natural habitats; and for connected purposes.

The bill as introduced

Caroline Lucas wrote about the bill in The Guardian on 20 September 2019.


March 2020

Transition Talks - 'Green New Deals'  online discussion 

A lively and interesting  online discussion on the subject of 'A Green New Deal and how can it be implemented'  was held on Wednesday 25 March.  A small group of TBI members reviewed the history of the Green New Deal concept and some of the proposals currently being put forward by political parties and other organisations in the UK and America, and grappled with the problems of how to hold to account councils and governments which have declared climate emergencies, and the impossibility of implementing any serious Green New Deal Plans unless governments can be persuaded to take climate change seriously and undertake the massive national projects and huge expenditure which will be required.

An interesting topical consideration was whether the massive lifestyle changes people are currently prepared to accept in the face of the threat of corona virus might carry over into greater awareness of the need for similar changes in the face of the less immediate but no less serious threat from climate change, or whether the world will revert to 'business as usual' until it is too late.

Background information and links to sources were prepared in advance of the meeting, and links to these can be found below.

'The Green New Deal - how can it be achieved?'
'Green New Deals UK-wide and America'
Green New Deal Links


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