Green Party candidate for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, called for system change to combat the climate emergency in an appearance on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday (11 November) at the end of the first week of the general election campaign.
In response to a question from Andrew Marr about whether she ever travels by air, Lucas said: “I think sometimes the focus on individual behaviour lets the big fossil fuel companies off the hook and it lets those in power off the hook.
“What we need here is systems change. It is incredibly easy to pit one person’s behaviour against another person’s behaviour and say ‘you’re not good enough’. We’re all trying to do our best in a deeply imperfect system, so what we should be doing is changing that system.”
Lucas condemned the fact that it is often more expensive to take the train from the UK to destinations in Europe than to fly and called for “change to the price signals to make it easier for people to do the right thing rather than sit in judgement of others”, questioning why aviation fuel is not taxed.
Lucas also addressed several of the main features of the first week of campaigning for the general election on 12 December for the Green Party, including the party’s participation in an electoral arrangement with the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru where parties would unite behind one Remain-backing candidate to increase the chance of maximising the Remain vote at the election and depriving Boris Johnson’s Conservatives of a majority.
While admitting the Greens were not participating in the arrangement “lightly”, Lucas said that it was a necessity due to the “undemocratic and unfair” first-past-the-post electoral system. She said that “every single candidate for whom people are standing aside is committed to going back to parliament and fighting for electoral reform”, adding that the Greens would have “loved” to do this with Labour, but that the main opposition party “wouldn’t play ball”.
The Green Party is running its most ambitious general election campaign to date at this election, and is looking to capitalise on strong showings in this year’s local and European elections – where two million people voted for the party, returning seven MEPs – and made a number of eye-catching proposals to tackle the climate emergency at its campaign launch in Bristol last week (6 November), including the commitment to spend £100 billion a year for 10 years to make the UK carbon neutral.
Rebuffing claims that the Greens’ proposals were unaffordable, Lucas said: “£100 billion every year over 10 years is what we think is necessary to reach net zero by 2030. We think the government's target to get to net zero emissions by 2050, which is 20 years later, is not up to scrutiny. It’s like dialling 999 and saying ‘can I have a fire engine in 30 years time?’. It’s not commensurate with what I understand to be an emergency.
Lucas stated that the Green New Deal that the promised spending would bring about would be “transformative” and see the decarbonisation of transport, land use and how homes are heated, as well as bringing benefits to the NHS in the form of reduced illness due to air pollution and poorly heated homes, and increased tax revenues due to more jobs in the green economy.
She concluded: “The idea that when we’re facing a climate emergency the idea that we can sit around and say I’m not sure we can afford to tackle it, I don’t think future generations would forgive us for that.”