The Green Party has released a report calling for an emergency Covid-19 economic recovery package to focus on the transition to a sustainable economy, supporting green jobs and industries.
Written by the Green Party’s Finance Spokesperson, Molly Scott Cato, the report ‘Less is More’ released today (5 June) outlines how any fiscal stimulus implemented to avoid mass unemployment should be based on the tenets of a Green New Deal with those industries that have a future in a zero-carbon world receiving priority support.
With many industries turning to the government for financial support and bailouts, the Green Party’s report calls for the development of a national economic triaging system whereby those businesses and industries committed to the transition to a zero-carbon future would be allocate priority government support, receiving funding to produce conversion plans to undertake low-energy restructuring.
Industries such as aviation and the fossil fuel industry would not be in line to receive public money, with these industries instead being cut back dramatically to ensure a low-carbon future past 2030. While the government publicly rejected Richard Branson’s request for a bailout of Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet has received a £600-million loan from the government’s Covid-19 corporate financing facility.
Other companies asking for public support would also be subject to a number of conditions, including not being allowed to pay out dividends, bonuses or to buy back shares, having to be registered to pay tax in the UK and achieve a maximum pay differential of 10:1 over the next two years.
A transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy would result in the loss of many jobs in polluting industries, and so the Green Party’s report reiterates its call for a Green New Deal, which would consist of an investment plan to support job and economic activity replacement focused in home retrofit and investment in electrification and the construction of green infrastructure.
This investment plan would be implemented with the involvement of trade unions to ensure that workers facing redundancy could re-skill and retrain for roles in sustainable industries.
Underpinning the transition to a low-carbon sustainable economy would be a decoupling of the economy from growth, accepting the smaller absolute size of the economy and focusing on a redistribution of wealth to those that contribute less to climate breakdown – the poorest 50 per cent of the global population, around 3.5 billion people, contribute just 10 per cent of individual consumption-based fossil fuels, compared to 50 per cent by the richest 10 per cent.
To further support the poorest in society, the report calls for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), though this must be accompanied by a significant public investment programme as advocated by the Green Party at the 2019 general election, supported by a programme of Quantitative Easing, environmental taxes, such as a carbon tax, and the creation of a national development bank.
While underlining that the Green Party supports a mixed economy, it calls for the government to be ready to intervene with rationing of goods, such as food, if necessary during the crisis and retake control of public utilities, prioritising railway rolling stock and franchises as they expire or become financially compromised, ferries that cover socially necessary routes and limited but essential airlines.
On the global level, while the Global North has the facilities to implement measures such as Quantitative Easing using their own currency reserve, this is often not the case for countries in the Global South due to high levels of external debt. Thus the ‘Less is More’ report calls for the cancellation of $44 billion of debt owed by African countries in 2020, provide $2.5 billion in aid to p[oor countries to alleviate the impact of the pandemic and write off debt, as well as the establishment of a new global financial system to achieve financial stability.
You can view the report ‘Less is More’ on the Green Party website.