Building a (Red) Green New Deal - Environment Network Launch

Mhairi Tordoff discusses the Young Fabian environment network launch event.

This month saw the official launch of our new Young Fabians Environment Network. Clive Lewis MP, Polly Billington (SERA) and India Bourke (New Statesman) joined us in Parliament to talk about how the left can build a Green New Deal, and the fundamental changes needed in society to tackle our environmental crisis.

Implementing system change, not climate change, is at the heart of Clive Lewis’ plans for the Treasury. His role as Shadow Minister for sustainable economics has seen him explore how a Labour government would restructure Government spending to deliver environmental and social justice. This includes looking at tax incentives and reviewing how the Treasury’s Green Book could be, well, a bit more green.

With the rise of Extinction Rebellion and the success of the recently launched Labour for a Green New Deal, Clive is clear the time has come for political leadership. Action needs to come from across Government, not allocated to one brief, if it is to be meaningful.

But change should not be left to Westminster. As Polly pointed out there are hundreds of levers we can use across the country to move to a greener economy. Climate Change is a class issue so we need to listen to local communities and empower local decision makers. Action on climate change should not be left to the technocrats - or the ‘I know better than you-crats’. And how do we engage communities? Polly argues we need to talk about climate change in the language of what people care about. Let’s talk about healthy homes, not zero carbon homes.

And what’s the role of the media? According to India journalists need to be critical of the storytelling techniques they use. Highlighting the glory of the natural world can hide the reality of its degradation. Talking about the environment in monetary terms as ‘natural capital’ might work for policy-makers, but it can alienate the public.

Apocalyptic narratives are on the rise in the media and gaining traction with the public. With Extinction Rebellion protesting in parliament as we spoke, India’s caution that political action needs to reflect the increasingly loud warnings couldn’t be more timely.

So what does that mean for our network? Be surprising and be radical was the advice from our panelists.

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