Labour launches consultation on ambitious green economic recovery

Sienna Rodgers

Labour’s Ed Miliband and Anneliese Dodds have launched a consultation on the creation of an ambitious green and just economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

Running until the end of June, the process will see the party urge businesses, sector associations, trade unions, workers, campaign groups and the public to submit their ideas.

Labour says the UK needs a green new deal in the wake of Covid-19, which will offer jobs to those affected by the crisis and build an environmentally sustainable economy.

The party believes that the government must actively ensure that workers are reskilled, retrained and redeployed to help accelerate progress towards the UK’s climate commitments.

The consultation is set to involve virtual round tables with industry and experts, “town hall style engagement events” held online with environmental groups and engagement with members of the public.

It will be run through Labour’s national policy forum as part of the open policy-making process, which will be accepting submissions until June 30th. The party is seeking proposals on:

  • How jobs can be retained, supported and created in the green economy of the future
  • Helping businesses transition to a green economy as part of the recovery
  • Focusing public and private investment on green technologies, research and innovation
  • Redeploying and retraining people from industries where people have lost their jobs
  • Rewilding, reforesting and restoring natural spaces

Commenting on the launch, Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said: “This is a moment of profound economic distress for the country. People are losing their jobs at an alarming rate in the midst of the biggest recession for 300 years.

“We need a zero carbon army, helping all workers. There is so much work to be done, from home energy insulation to designing and producing zero emission vehicles to renewable energy production to reforesting and improving our green spaces and redesigning and improving our towns and cities.

“This rapid consultation will seek views on specific measures that can be taken now to kick start a green recovery. We know that this work needs to be done if we are to meet our climate objectives.”

Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Chancellor, added: “While the current recession is the deepest and widest in hundreds of years, the long-term costs of failing to deal with the climate crisis also pose grave risks for our economy. We must ensure that the recovery builds back better.

“Public funds must be focused on sustaining and promoting employment, especially in those areas which are already struggling; and meeting our climate and environmental commitments.

“I would urge anyone who feels they have solutions to these enormous challenges to contribute to this consultation.”

Angus Satow of campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal said: “It’s great to see Labour consulting on a radical, just and green recovery programme. Our exploitative economic system entrenches inequality and accelerates the climate crisis.

“Now is the time to use the power of the state, through public ownership, to insulate all of the UK’s 27 million homes, wind down the Big Polluters, retrain millions of workers for green jobs and support Global South countries to transition to clean energy in a spirit of solidarity.

“The new post-pandemic green settlement Labour speaks of must prioritise people’s health and security, delivering basic services like free broadband and publicly-run green transport for all.

“That’s the programme Labour members and trade unions overwhelmingly backed at conference last year, and that’s the case we’ll be making to the leadership.”

It was reported this week that the Chancellor is looking at green jobs for laid-off workers – even using the term “green industrial revolution”, which was a core Labour policy in the 2019 general election.

According to The Times, Rishi Sunak will boost government investment in clean energy and possibly establish a fund to reskill workers for green jobs in an economic stimulus package next month.

Marking World Environment Day 2020, Keir Starmer has tweeted that “the health of people and planet are intertwined” and “we commit to a recovery from coronavirus that tackles the existential threat of the climate crisis”.

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