Blatantly stolen from the Green Party 10-point climate plan:
This is what real climate ambition looks like
The Green Party has been proposing radical and necessary action on climate change for the past three decades. We were talking about these issues when most other politicians were either in ignorance or denial. We have the courage to demand the sort of action that the science and social justice dictates rather than limiting our policy ambition to what big business will tolerate.
We are greatly cheered that the public share our sense of the scale of ambition required and the urgency required to achieve it. A YouGov poll from October this year demonstrated that 51% of those polled do not think the government is doing enough to tackle climate change. We agree. In spite of a great deal more hot air in recent weeks, the proposals are tiny and dwarfed by what is needed to reach their own inadequate targets.
The Prime Minister’s recently announced 10-point plan only takes the UK just over half-way to meeting its interim climate targets, while government support for new roads, airport expansion and fossil fuel infrastructure undermines progress.
And we know there is public appetite for doing so much more to protect our environment and climate. Many of the policies proposed by the UK’s recent Climate Assembly are already Green Party policies, such as a frequent flyer levy. While the assembly’s themes of protecting the most vulnerable are exactly the principles behind the Green Party’s vision for a better future. It is crucial that no-one is left behind because of their job, their income or where they live in the UK.
The ten policies we highlight here are not enough on their own to ensure that the UK plays its proportionate part in ensuring that the world stays within the 1.5C warming limit. But they are far more radical than what is being proposed by any other political party. We are highlighting them to demonstrate the failure of climate ambition on the part of the other political parties and to be clear about what real ambition on climate actually looks like.
We are the party that is prepared to act tough not just talk tough on climate. If not now, when?
A realistic framework
What would a climate programme of real ambition look like? First, and most importantly, it would be a joined-up and detailed plan, not a wish-list, funded through a £100bn a year Green New Deal for the next decade. It would focus on action today that is so much more impactful than promises about tomorrow.
No government is reaching the level of ambition needed to keep global temperature rise below 2C, let alone the 1.5C that was agreed at the Paris summit five years ago, according to the 2021 Climate Change Performance Index. This represents a serious challenge that the UK has a responsibility to lead the response to.
Here is our framework for how the government should structure its response to the climate emergency
- To drive change we need five year plans focussing on actual emissions reductions each year.
- Due to the UK’s large historic emissions, we have a strong moral and scientific case for leading the way on achieving net zero as quickly as possible.
- No exceptions: all sectors must play their part, meaning emissions from aviation and shipping have to be included in UK climate targets.
- No fancy accounting and no offsets: we must take responsibility for our emissions domestically.
- We must aim to reach net zero as quickly as is feasibly possible in order to reduce risk for the planet and ensure future generations are not left to pick up the bill for harm they did not do.
Policies to match the scale of the crisis
- A carbon tax
A carbon tax of £100 per tonne of carbon dioxide rising to £500 by 2030, applied to all emissions, with some of the tax yield used to compensate those on lower incomes.
- Develop renewables
Develop offshore and onshore wind to provide at least 100 GW of electricity by 2030. This should provide around 70% of the UK’s electricity demand by this time, which will be much higher than currently to supply the increase in electric vehicles and heat pumps.
- Improve homes
Government investment to improve the insulation of every home that needs it and provide major heating upgrades and the highest standard of energy efficiency for one million homes a year.
- A sustainable transport revolution
Cancel the hugely carbon intensive road-building programme including the A303 at Stonehenge and the Lower Thames Crossing, take all fossil fuel cars and vans off the road by 2030 and invest in public transport, active travel and support for disabled people to reduce car miles by 50% by 2030.
- Reduce emissions from aviation
Stop all airport expansion, apply carbon tax to aviation fuel and introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy as part of a drive to reduce air miles by 70% by 2030.
- Electrify industry
Provide transitional grants to support industrial conversion especially replacing old high-emitting carbon equipment with newly developed low carbon equipment and encourage a movement toward the circular economy.
- Restore nature
Increase land for forests and woodlands by planting 700 million trees by 2030 and encourage the restoration of peatland through new subsidies to capture carbon and protect nature.
- Sustainable agriculture
Provide farmers with subsidies and training to help transition to sustainable, diverse and environmentally friendly forms of land use, including organic farming, agroforestry and mixed farming, and away from livestock farming.
- Healthier food
Encourage a healthier diet and reduce consumption of meat and dairy in the UK by 70%.
- Universal support
Introduce a Universal Basic Income, paid to all residents to tackle poverty and provide a financial safety net to everyone during the transition.
How are you going to pay for this?
After the devastation to the public finances caused by the Covid pandemic, this question sounds rather last year. However, it is still a vital question to answer, particularly because it has inherent in it the suggestion that we might return to another period of counterproductive and devastating austerity.
The Conservative Party will propose that we should restore the public finances as swiftly as possible as a ‘sacred duty’. Labour will argue that we can repay money borrowed to support the economy by more and more growth. The Green Party’s position is that we must invest now to save later. The urgent need is to enable the hundreds of thousands of people who are about to be made redundant by government mismanagement to move into the new Green economy. This requires government funded jobs and training. Government can get the money from a mix of borrowing at near-zero rates and Green quantitative easing.
The Green New Deal we need to prevent a catastrophic Covid recession can support the economy through these difficult times but only so that we can ultimately reach a position where, as a climate-secure economy, we can take our economy off the destructive growth treadmill. Only the Green Party has the commitment to measuring our economy in a different way, to reducing the inevitable link between employment and economic security, and to radically reforming our money system so that we produce money when we need it rather than allowing debt-based money to force economic growth.
Written by David Flint and Tony Firkins, Climate Emergency Policy Working Group, December 2020