Green MEP Gina Dowding has today (29 October) launched a new report, ‘The Green New Deal in the North West’, presenting a framework of how we can fundamentally transform society in the face of the climate emergency through a Green New Deal (GND).
“This particular document focuses on the North West region and its long and proud history of industry and innovation,” said Gina Dowding. The report examines “what has to stop in our region, what needs to be expanded and which policies we can put in place at the local, national and European level to deliver change.”
A ‘Green New Deal’ (GND) promotes a radical overhaul of financial institutions and the mobilisation of investment in clean and low-carbon infrastructure. The concept has been gaining traction for over ten years on both sides of the Atlantic – the Green Party has made it a key policy while it has been championed in the US by Democrats such as New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders to make it a key part of the Democratic presidential primaries.
Dowding’s report identifies five key areas that require critical change and outlines opportunities and examples of best practice from across the region, setting out some of the policies that are needed to scale-up action.
Renewable energy supply
Amongst other proposals, ‘The Green New Deal in the North West’ advocates putting an end to new fossil fuel developments and nuclear plants, focusing instead on developing green hydrogen projects – the North West has a number of characteristics which make it well-suited to becoming the UK’s premier hydrogen producer and user.
An estimated 3.2 million homes in the North West region are not fit for purpose, contributing to fuel poverty and homelessness.
The report says the UK must declare the state of housing a national emergency and deliver a radical, multi-billion pound national deep retrofit scheme to ensure homes are fully insulated and fitted with eco heating systems. This could also create up to 35,000 jobs in the North West over the next decade.
A Green New Deal for the North West means an overhaul of inefficient transport systems – cheaper, greener and more reliable buses and trains, and redesigning streets for cycling and walking.
It aims to push for a new Clean Air Act and devolve further powers to local authorities so that every council has the option of franchising local bus services.
Industry – a zero-carbon, circular economy
After decades of deindustrialisation, many communities across the North West have been left deprived of a share of the nation’s prosperity. A Green New Deal will scale up the resources available to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and branch out existing programmes to wider environmental concerns like zero waste and the circular economy.
Accessible support for SMEs is beneficial for the regional economy because smaller companies are far more likely to keep profit in the local community, and it is vital for a green industrial revolution.
Land use, food and biodiversity
The present industrialised food system has a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing, as well as the planet. UK agriculture now provides less than half of the food we eat by value, and much of it is wasted.
‘The Green New Deal in the North West’ advocates regenerative, agroecological farming methods such as organic growing and agroforestry as well as restoring forest cover, peatlands, and diverse meadows. It also suggests taking measures at the national level to promote a decrease in meat consumption from non-local sources, and reduce all food waste from farm to fork.
“A radical transformation, where no community is left behind ever again”
The report has been welcomed by a number of Green Party figures. Commenting on the publication, Baroness Natalie Bennett, the newly-elected Green Peer, said: "As Greens, we know that we have to take power back from Westminster and allow local communities to make decisions about their futures. That's one reason why this report is so crucial, setting out how the region can tackle the climate emergency, the collapse in our natural environment and the awful inequality and poverty that is blighting so many lives in the North West and around the UK.
"Business as usual is not an option. The idea of change is frightening to many, but this report outlines the way in which communities can through a just transition deliver a society that works for people and planet."
Gina Dowding added: “We absolutely must lead from the front and face the many challenges that the climate crisis has presented us with. The next generation deserves us to urgently respond and react with solutions that include everyone, not just the privileged few.
“The Green New Deal will do just that, helping us to move to a more sustainable, zero-carbon society, decarbonisation the economy while creating new jobs, improving health and wellbeing, whilst tackling inequality and redistributing wealth after years of austerity.
“A radical transformation, where no community is left behind ever again.”
Read more about ‘The Green New Deal in the North West’ and Gina Dowding’s work on her website.