Jones delivers Greens’ Speech in Lords

Green peer Jenny Jones has delivered an alternative ‘Greens’ Speech’ following the Queen’s Speech this week that lays out what a Green Government would do to address the climate emergency, move to a green economy and revolutionise our democracy.

Jenny Jones speaking
Jenny Jones speaking

Image: Stephan Röhl / Flickr / cc by-sa 2.0

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones delivered this speech to the House of Lords on Thursday 17 October 2019.

My Lords, I’m not sure what we are doing here today, when the government that has presented their agenda is 43 seats short of a majority and have no known way of implementing it.

However there are a few, very few, welcome ideas within this Queen’s Speech. The Environment Bill will give a hook on which I can attach a great many amendments. And the

Agriculture Bill will apparently finally make its way to your Lordships’ House, so that we might finally amend it to implement the types of policies on food, farming and land use which Greens have been advocating for decades. 

I welcome the proposal to recognise animal sentience in law. The continuation of the Domestic Abuse Bill will transform lives and punish abusers. 

On the other hand, for example, the proposals on changes to length of prison sentences for violent criminals goes against all informed advice and will make prisons even more dangerous. We have allowed prisons to deteriorate for the past 20 years and this measure would make them worse.

Say, the government’s focus on election campaigning has, unsurprisingly, failed to propose the measures necessary to transform our economy and society in the 11 years that we have left to tackle the ecological and climate emergency. The government does not yet understand the scale and intensity of change required as the clock ticks towards unavoidable feedback loops, with every day wasted making it so much harder to turn the clock back. 

My Lords, in response to the Queens’ Speech, I beg leave to deliver the “Greens’ Speech”. 

Greens will bring forward ambitious legislation to create a Green New Deal which will renew British industry and recalibrate our economy for a zero carbon future. Avoiding climate catastrophe requires us to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, and to include aviation, shipping and offshoring within those targets. A massive investment programme, taking advantage of record low global interest rates, would commit at least five per cent of public expenditure towards rapidly reducing our carbon emissions and protecting the natural environment. 

The Green New Deal will include an ambitious energy efficiency programme to bring down the running costs of every household and business in the country while reducing the total amount of energy that we must produce as a nation. Support would be given to democratise our energy supply, so that individuals, schools and communities can club together to develop their own sources of renewable energy. The Green New Deal would reinstate the Net-Zero housing standards that were abandoned by this government, and deliver a mass programme of zero carbon social housing to tackle the housing crisis and eliminate homelessness altogether. 

Greens will bring forward legislation to end the failed railway franchise system and bring the operation of trains and track back into public ownership. Investment in public transport, cycling and walking will focus our streets and public spaces on people, not cars, making us happier and healthier in the process. 

Greens will deliver legislation which puts citizens in charge of the big decisions facing this country. The creation of a Citizens Committee on Climate and Ecological Justice will put the public in charge where politicians have consistently failed. A Citizens Committee on the British Constitution will work across the country to develop a new constitution which is fit for the challenges and opportunities of a modern democracy, and abandon the stale, archaic and impenetrable mess of our uncodified, unwritten constitution. No longer will the two biggest parties, backed by gerrymandering and First Past the Post voting system, be able to take it in turns to govern the country while blaming the other side for all their downfalls. The era of majority government is over and a New Democratic Settlement is the only way to heal the gaping divisions in our society. The abolition of your Lordships’ House, to be replaced with an elected second chamber, would be a core part of renewing our parliamentary democracy. 

Real environmental legislation will stop all unnecessary single-use plastics by 2025 and enable the planting of 3,000 hectares of trees every single year. Greens would create an environmental regulator with the funding, powers and independence to truly hold the government to account. 

A Clean Air Bill will recognise the human right to breathe clean air, attaching it to the Human Rights Act. Public bodies would be required to take the necessary steps to stop the pollution that causes thousands of premature deaths each year. 

Human rights will be strengthened – in particular the human rights of environmental protectors and activists who risk their jobs, livelihoods and freedom in order to force politicians to face up to the reality of our climate emergency. Legislation will reform the use of civil injunctions so that big corporations can no longer stop peaceful protests in order to cause widespread ecological damage. 

It has always been my priority for a Green Government to avoid climate and ecological disaster, and I am delighted to be joined by my noble friend the Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle to continue that fight.