Fringe Box



Letter: Tackling Climate Change Requires Political Will

Published on: 24 Feb, 2024
Updated on: 24 Feb, 2024

From: Sam Peters

former Green Party candidate in Local elections

In response to: Can Green Be the New Gold? Can Going Green Save and Make Money?

How far Labour have fallen since Atlee’s post-war government,  faced with a truly devastated economy, made the transformative choice to invest in our infrastructure – creating the NHS, a million council houses, effective public transport networks, a social safety net, huge education boosts, and more.

This latest climbdown is especially poorly timed for Guildford – a Climate Coalition assessment shows our constituency is one of 24 nationwide where climate/environmental issues could ultimately decide our next MP.

Of course, £28 billion is still laughable versus the scale of the problem, as are Labour’s climate policies generally (indeed, climate policies of all other parties). As the joke goes, “We may have destroyed the planet, but at least we stuck to some arbitrary fiscal rules.”

Only the Green Party recognises the costs of inaction are – quite literally – infinite if we fail to rapidly reverse climate breakdown. And only the Green Party recognises the basic economic fact that national budgets are not like household budgets, and escaping recession means investing, not further cuts.

Fortunately – as alluded to – much green investment actually saves or even makes money, even short-term. Take the Green policy of a nationwide household insulation drive – estimated to pay for itself in a few years. How so?

Health problems caused by cold, damp, mouldy homes cost the NHS nearly £600 million annually. Properly insulating homes (helping end fuel poverty altogether) also saves households hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pounds a year on fuel bills, removing need for most heating benefits and putting money directly into people’s pockets, which is then returned into local economies. And of course, huge numbers of green jobs would be created nationwide – with associated tax revenue.

Likewise with many Green policies. Why spend tens of billions subsidising wildly expensive, environmentally destructive fossil fuels, when wind and solar are four times cheaper than even gas, and installable in months/years, rather than decades?

Why is Labour backing billions handed to fossil fuel companies (including several owned by Conservative donors) to drill climate-wrecking North Sea oil to be sold on international markets, when investing in real energy security through a homegrown clean energy revolution would cut bills, reduce air/water pollution, and create more jobs?

This and more is possible without excessive borrowing. A fairer tax system, ensuring corporations and the ultra-rich pay their fair share, would raise tens of billions. Carbon taxes on the most polluting companies would raise £80 billion annually. Cracking down on tax-dodging could save £36-120 billion a year. There are countless other options.

Ultimately the problem isn’t money, technology, skills or public mood. The problem is political will, and unfortunately only the Green Party is bold enough to safeguard our future by investing in this crucial issue now – in a way that tackles poverty and inequality, cut bills, creates jobs, and builds a healthier, more sustainable society.

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