An “economic revolution to tackle the climate crisis, using the full power of the state to decarbonize the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in struggling towns and cities” would be in the offing for the United Kingdom if the opposition Labour party formed a government, The Guardian reports, citing an interview with the party’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.
“It could not be made clearer to us, and people are starting to realize how incredibly dangerous this situation is,” Long-Bailey said in a late December interview. “There is no option but to radically transform our economy.”
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She added that the climate crisis is also “an opportunity to bring well-paid, highly skilled jobs and economic regeneration to some of the most marginalized communities in the country,” The Guardian notes, citing similarities between the Labour plan and the Green New Deal advocated by progressive legislators like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the United States.
“We have to tackle climate change in a really radical way, the evidence is crystal clear,” Long-Bailey said. “But this is also a wonderful opportunity to invest in those towns and cities that have felt neglected for a very long time.” She vowed that “this has to be—and will be—a genuine transformation of the economy.”
Long-Bailey cited the gilets jaunes protests in France as evidence that climate and environmental action must connect to a wider social and economic program.
“If you knocked on a door in Salford, where I am from, although most people care about climate change it is not going to be top of their list of priorities. Most people just want to know how their life is going to be improved,” she told The Guardian.
“So it is important for us to position ourselves as a party that is going to tackle climate change, but turn that into an economic opportunity for the vast areas of this country that have seen decades of underinvestment, provide jobs for the future, and provide that revitalization that communities want to see.”
For that transition to work, “we need to be telling people that by tackling climate change we can have a factory that is going to create wind turbines, is going to manufacture parts for offshore wind, and show them that their child in the local school can become an engineer, that they will get proper pay and be in a job that is secure, well valued, with trade unions involved so they have that security and a collective voice,” she said. “Ultimately, people need to know that their kids can have a really good, full, and interesting life if we get this right.”
A senior source in the office of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said both he and shadow chancellor John McDonnell “were ‘100% committed’ to implementing the transformative agenda laid out by Long-Bailey as soon as Labour were in office,” The Guardian states.
“The party’s current target is to get 60% of the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the middle of the century,” the paper notes. “But Long-Bailey said they needed to be ‘even more ambitious’ and set targets for areas of the economy beyond energy, from heavy industries like iron, steel, and chemicals to agriculture and land use.”
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