Ten years ago this week the Lehman Brothers collapse heralded the worst global economic crisis since the 30s, the political, economic and social effects of which are still being felt today. To help ensure that these adverse trends are reversed it is crucial to return a sense of hope for the future, including through economic security for all, while fully protecting the environment.
A key part of this should be the urgent consideration and adoption by political parties and local campaigners of a “jobs in every constituency” green infrastructure programme. This would involve making the UK’s 30m buildings super-energy-efficient, accelerating the shift to renewable electricity supplies and storage, and tackling the housing crisis by building affordable, properly insulated new homes. A transport policy would need to rebuild local public transport links, properly maintain the UK’s road and rail system, and encourage a shift to electric vehicles. This approach is labour-intensive, takes place in every locality and consists of work that is difficult to automate – and so could provide a secure career structure for decades.
The tens of billions required annually to fund this massive infrastructure programme will require traditional government borrowing at the current low interest rate to help rebuild local economies. Additional finance could come, for example, from fairer taxes and the creation of savings opportunities in local authority bonds and green Isas.
Such diverse economic activity would not only improve social cohesion and environmental sustainability but should also make our economy more resilient in the face of any repeat of the economic crisis of a decade ago.
Vince Cable MP, David Drew MP, Angus MacNeil MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Craig Bennett CEO, Friends of the Earth, Jonathon Porritt Green party, Colin Hines Convener, UK Green New Deal Group, Prof Richard Murphy City, University of London, Jeremy Leggett Founder, Solar Century, Ann Pettifor Progressive Economy Forum, Tony Juniper Environmentalist, Charles Secrett Sustainability adviser, former director of Friends of the Earth, Tom Burke Chairman of E3G, Prof Tim Lang City, University of London, Neal Lawson Director, Compass, Robin McAlpine Director, Common Weal