The Green Party has launched its most ambitious general election campaign to date, promising to invest £100 billion a year for the next decade as part of a Green New Deal to address the climate emergency.
At a launch event today (6 November) in Bristol, the Greens outlined their ambitions to make the UK carbon neutral by 2030 as they bid to place climate action firmly at the top of the agenda for the coming election on 12 December.
Green Party Co-Leader Sian Berry said: “Let’s be honest about the situation we’re in. We know these are dark times. It’s easy to fear the future.
“The threat of Brexit hangs over our heads, the climate emergency rages from the Amazon to the Arctic, and our fragile democracy is under attack.
“But despite all this, Greens don’t fear the future. We are the future. Because we know that we stand at the threshold of what could be the most exciting and prosperous period of our country’s history.”
While the climate emergency will be Greens’ primary concern, dealing with Brexit remains paramount. The party will campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit and campaign to remain in the EU in such a public vote, promoting the economic, social and cultural value of membership of the EU, and committing to deal with the issues that led to the Brexit vote in the first place.
The party’s Green New Deal, which has gained traction across both sides of the Atlantic in recent times, will include the building of 100,000 energy-efficient homes each year, revolutionising public transport infrastructure, rapidly rolling out renewable energy capacity across the UK and creating hundreds of thousands of low-carbon jobs.
Berry explained: “Taking action on the climate emergency isn’t just about diverting action, it’s about creating a brand new Britain.
“We say forget inequality, forget worshipping GDP, forget pointless and bloody foreign wars. Forget fracking, coal and oil. Forget working longer hours for lower pay, forget your landlord raising your rent beyond your means. Forget air so toxic it chokes you to death.
“We have a vision for a different future.”
Given the cost of government borrowing is at its lowest in decades, the Greens have committed to borrowing £91.2 billion a year to fund its ambitious green infrastructure programme. Servicing the extra borrowing will be met by revenue from tax changes such as increasing Corporation Tax to 24 per cent. Further policy proposals will be revealed in the party’s upcoming manifesto.
Deputy Leader Amelia Womack said: “The Green Party wants to invest £100 billion into a Green New Deal that works for everyone. This is about warmer homes and renewable energy. It’s about making sure we are investing in research and development, and ensuring we have a public transport system that genuinely means that the Greenest options are the cheapest and easiest.
“This is an investment for our future, to lift us out of the crushing effects of the recession.”
Stressing that this will be a “climate election”, Womack continued: “The climate emergency has always been our priority – we can’t look to a Labour Party that adopted its climate policy only a month ago and expect them to deliver that as the most important thing.
“Once you get the environment and social justice policies right, the economy follows.”
The party is aiming to build on its success in the 2019 local and European elections – the Greens received more than two million votes in the Europeans and gained the highest vote share in Brighton and Hove, Bristol and Norwich – and add to its single MP, Caroline Lucas.
Bristol West is a key target seat for the Greens, with candidate Carla Denyer, a local city councillor, proposing the first Climate Emergency motion in the UK in November 2018.
Carla explained that her campaign to unseat Labour’s Thangham Debbonaire, who achieved a substantial majority in the 2017 election, will be a challenge: “It won’t be easy, but I think we have a good shot at it.
“Labour had a big majority in 2017, but in 2015 we came a pretty close second. I think that the political atmosphere today, in Bristol at least, is much closer to how it was in 2015. 2017 was the height of Corbyn-mania and many people believed that Labour was a remain party, but I don’t think either of those things are true today.
“On the doorstep we’ve had lots of people say that they voted Labour last time and they are disappointed, and we’ve even had people joining the Green Party because of that.
“Bristol and the South West has a progressive and rebellious spirit. Bristol is, at its heart, a green city and I think it’s exactly the kind of place where Greens should be elected.”
Calling for people to get involved in her campaign, Carla said: “A lot of people are feeling quite despairing about the state of our politics at the moment. What I have found is that being directly involved in trying to bring about a positive alternative makes you feel much more hopeful for the future, so you can kill two birds with one stone – help to get me elected and make yourself feel more positive about politics!”
You can find out more about Carla’s election campaign on her website.