climate change equality politics

First steps towards a UK Green New Deal

The idea of a Green New Deal originated in the UK in the aftermath of the financial crisis. It didn’t get anywhere at the time (despite the coalition government half borrowing the term for its ‘green deal’, which it subsequently botched anyway). It’s back on the agenda now after high profile campaigns in the US, and then more successfully in the EU, South Korea and elsewhere.

What the Green New Deal attempts is to create a big over-arching vision for sustainability and equality together. There are lots of things you could include (see my vision of it here) and some places are being more adventurous with it than others. But ideally it should be an ambitious government campaign to transform the economy. It should be a historic change of direction, not a bit of tinkering and greenery.

We’re a long way from a Green New Deal in the UK, and the New Economics Foundation have been doing some of the spade-work in getting the conversation started. They suggest that the government’s much vaunted ‘levelling up’ plans are best delivered through a Green New Deal, rolling together social and environmental goals.

Their new report outlines five steps towards a Green New Deal, “an economy-wide plan that puts the climate crisis and people’s living standards at the top of the government’s agenda. It would not only curb the worst effects of climate breakdown but it would reprogramme our economy so that it works for everyone.”

They make the case for it in this video, which I recommend sharing. The more people are talking about a Green New Deal, the more attention it’s going to get from decision makers.


  1. This is all good stuff, but, whilst inequality figures large, wealth taxes – apart from capital gains – don’t get much of a mention. Until such time as wealth itself is taxed, we will never get rid of inequality – it will just be redistribution amongst the majority whilst the rich continue to cream off wealth for themselves – which they usually promptly spend or invest in climate damaging outcomes.
    Back at the start of the welfare state in the UK, in the Peoples Budget of 1909, to pay for old age pensions, unemployment benefit and sick pay, part of the package was a Land Value Tax (LVT). This was promptly thrown out by the House of Lords – predominantly landowners back then – and forced the Parliament Act of 1911 which prevented the Lords from challenging the budget – but at the cost of so watering down the LVT proposals as to be essentially worthless.
    I have decided that in future elections I will refuse to vote for anyone that does not propose a sufficiently robust LVT (amongst other asset taxes) that our modest 6x30m terraced house plot in the wealthiest part of Sheffield (and amongst the wealthiest in the country) will attract an LVT of around £5,000/year. This is based on the Biblical principle of Jubilee – the value of our land in excess of the value of the house on it would be paid back to the community every 50 years.

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