Category Archives: Environment
Labour has convened an International Social Forum, bringing together politicians, economists and social movement leaders from across the world. It will launch a new dialogue on the reform of the international institutional architecture needed to tackle the global challenges of the twenty first century.
Its first meeting on Sunday began the construction of a programme to reform our global economic policymaking architecture in order to address climate change.
“Currently, only greenhouse gases generated by goods and services produced within the country are measured”
Lamiat Sabin, journalist and parliamentary reporter, informs us that Jeremy Corbyn intends to disclose for the first time the “true impact” on the climate of Britain’s emissions:
Though these levels have reduced, Ms Sabin points out that statisticians are not adding on the emissions generated from imported goods — which the Labour leader says have “barely changed” in 20 years.
Jeremy Corbyn: Britain is effectively “offshoring” its emissions to the rest of the world:
“It’s time we were honest about our contribution to the climate crisis. It is even greater than we think. So under Labour, Britain will become the first major economy in the world to measure these consumption emissions and take action to reduce them.”
Labour is seeking to amend the Climate Change Act
An instruction to the Committee on Climate Change should include an assessment of Britain’s “total footprint emissions” in its annual report to Parliament, with recommendations to reduce them.
“Offshoring our emissions isn’t just bad for the climate, it’s bad for British industry”
Mr Corbyn explained that when we measure the emissions from goods produced in Britain but not those produced overseas, it puts industry here, especially energy-intensive industries like steel, at a disadvantage.
He vowed to invest billions of pounds in his party’s plan for a green industrial revolution, which Labour hopes will help close the north-south divide by basing a vast majority of up to 400,000 new jobs in the north of England.
Mr Corbyn sees the urgent need to tackle global emissions, instead of merely ‘passing the buck’ to countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions who produce our goods and services, adding:
“We will send financial and technical support to the developing world, helping them to adopt greener methods of production and reducing the carbon content of the goods we import.”
Note: The National Policy Forum is a body of representatives from all the major groups in the Labour Party. Its role is to shape the Labour Party’s policy agenda. NPF Representatives read and discuss submissions received via the Labour Policy Forum website, and discuss them in the relevant Policy Commissions. Go to this site to offer your policy proposals to your regional representative.
So writes Alan Simpson (left), formerly Labour MP for Nottingham South.
Labour has to shift the focus to the health of the planet that is perilously at risk. More than 1,000 doctors (including 40 professors and former presidents of royal colleges) now call for widespread “non-violent civil disobedience” over Parliament’s failure to address the unfolding ecological and health emergency staring us in the face.
Everything, absolutely everything, must focus on two things. Labour has to block any prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU on October 31.
The trouble is that Labour is in almost as much of a mess as the Tories. At a time when the government is in complete disarray, Labour’s standing in the opinion polls is actually falling. Labour isn’t seen as offering the bigger, alternative vision and Brexit ambiguity looks more like weakness than leadership.
Mischief-makers are having a field day with identity politics in order to deflect attention from the structural issues that divide society, the deeper grievances; poverty, unemployment, squalor, ill-health, hopelessness, the towering evils the 1945 Labour government set out to tackle. As you set out to address them, the divides of race and religion melt to the sidelines.
We have to address the real “health disruptors” that stare us in the face:
- London’s current heatwave doesn’t compare with temperatures in France; 1.5°C higher than their 2003 heatwave in which thousands died.
- Catalonia is on fire.
- Guadalajara, in Mexico, woke up to find districts buried in two metres of freak hailstones, the size of golf balls.
- Similar “golf balls” had shattered windscreens in southern France only two weeks ago, just before the climate roller-coaster raced into overheating.
- The last 40 years has seen an 80% fall in bee and insect populations that pollination (and biodiversity) depends on.
It is all part of the unrecognised war we conduct upon ourselves (and our children)
So, back in Britain, where is the press challenging politicians on the existential crises facing our soils, water supplies, air quality, ecosystems and biodiversity?
On all the really big issues of the day, the press (and most politicians) have gone AWOL. One reason is that there are now no answers that don’t involve systems change.
The situation cries out for an urban mining, circular economics, that reclaims compounds and elements from products and buildings, reusing and recycling materials – including IT and electronic waste – that are finite rather than infinite. Product lifetimes have to be dramatically increased (along with the repair services to underpin them).
- There is as much copper circulating in the economy (or accumulating as scrap) as probably remains in the earth.
- Britain imports all of the 17 rare earth elements we rely on for everything from lasers to cancer drugs, from mobile phones to surgical supplies. Virtually all are currently lost as exported waste or inefficient recycling.
- We import 12.3 million tonnes of iron ore each year but produce 10m tonnes of scrap iron and steel, the bulk of which gets dumped abroad.
- The weight of clothing we discard is equivalent to the weight of clothing we import. And Britain discards the same weight of electronic equipment each year as the equipment we buy.
The Tory leadership race is dominated by prejudice and pandering to the rich and powerful. It will chase neoliberal delusions, no matter what social divisions or ecological disasters come in their wake. Labour must step beyond the politics of “me” and into the survival of “we.”
Simpson ends, “In doing so, I don’t care if my culture, my race, my sexuality, nationality or religion comes a poor second. The changes Labour must deliver, within the coming decade, will determine whether our children and grandchildren have the chance to sort these things out for themselves”.
Alan Simpson now advises the party on environmental issues. His article may be read in full here:
“The savage rules of the almighty Market have created the conditions that are speeding us to destruction”: Paul Halas
Paul Halas: “As we approach the 2020s there’s a growing awareness that we need change and we need change now. Running the country according to the savage rules of the almighty Market has created the conditions that are speeding us to destruction”.
In the Western Daily Press (26th April) Paul describes the Conservatives’ genius in persuading millions of long-suffering voters that the national economy operates like a household, so in order for the nation to “live within its means” we all have to tighten our belts.
But this concept – invented by Margaret Thatcher’s think tanks – was directed only at the 99% who always “suffer the destructive effects of austerity” as Halas points out.
The cuts to health, education, transport, disability benefits and other sectors go un-noticed by the I% who can afford to opt out of these systems – symbolised here by one of her ministers.
The household economics concept, Halas continues, ”echoed by every administration since . . . (is) easy to understand yet utterly meretricious”.
He refers us to sources such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, so the writer obediently found the latest report, which certainly did not confirm “the impression that everything in the garden is rosy”. Tax receipts have risen, but there is no indication that “lashings of money are flowing into the Treasury” as had been stated in the same column on 23rd April.
OBR: damned with faint praise?
- The economy ended 2018 growing a little less strongly than we expected in October. In recent weeks survey indicators of current activity have weakened materially, in part reflecting heightened uncertainty related to Brexit.
- The Government’s stated ‘fiscal objective’ is to balance the budget by 2025-26 and past forecast performance suggests that it now has a 40% chance of doing so by the end of our forecast in 2023-24.
- One risk to the public finance metrics that we do expect to crystallise over the coming months is an improvement in the accounting treatment of student loans . . . we estimate that it could increase the structural budget deficit by around £12 billion or 0.5 per cent of GDP in 2020-21.
- Net trade and private investment were markedly weaker than expected, weighed down by a slowing global economy and Brexit-related uncertainty. Business investment has fallen for four consecutive quarters – its longest continuous decline since the financial crisis.
Halas expands on tax issues and the misdirected quantitative easing adventure:
Although the prime function of tax is to regulate the economy and keep inflation under control, the failure of many of the richest individuals and corporations to pay their dues, thanks to absurdly flabby fiscal legislation, has helped fuel the UK’s runaway inequality and damaged society immeasurably.
It is estimated that 80% of new money created (by the government, via the banks) ends up into the coffers of the financial institutions and their clients, rather than funding investment and welfare as it should.
And ends: “The only sustainable way forward is to invest massively in greener forms of energy and greener transport, to create a greener infrastructure and a greener environment. This won’t be possible without a vast reduction in inequality, more public ownership, more localism, and a far more cooperative approach to economics – all policies the Labour Party is adopting. All those with vested interests will doubtless raise a billion objections, but the consequences of keeping our heads in the sand and trusting the Tories to come up with solutions would be catastrophic”.
LABOUR declared “a national environment and climate emergency” today.
Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman made the comments in the Commons as she asked the government whether it would join Labour in doing the same. She called on the government to meet with young climate strikers, who have previously had their meeting with Energy Minister Claire Perry cancelled.
Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) Friederike Lurken said it is “important” Labour is taking this step.
She said: “We are living through a climate emergency because governments and industry have not shown the necessary leadership and so far have not acted fast enough.
Fortunately thousands upon thousands of people are rising up with XR, and cultural institutions are joining with us. Dozens of local councils around Britain have already declared a climate emergency – both inspired by and through grassroots pressure from XR and the global School Strike For Climate.”
Labour’s intervention came as a major UN report warned today that the world is seeing record sea level rises and devastating floods, storms, heatwaves and wildfires as climate change impacts grow.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said “there is no longer any time for delay” on tackling climate change as the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) state of the climate 2018 report was published.
The physical signs of climate change and the impacts on people are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures to increasingly dangerous levels, the report said.
However provisional government figures show that Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3 per cent in 2018 as pollution from the energy sector continued to fall. Emissions of the gases which drive climate change have fallen for six years in a row, and are 44 per cent below the 1990 baseline for Britain.
In Scotland, Extinction Rebellion interrupted First Minister’s Questions at midday today to demand action in the face of the climate emergency.
A spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion Scotland said “Extinction Rebellion Scotland did not wish to undermine other concerns raised by MSPs, but to highlight the climate crisis as this is not sufficiently dealt with despite its pressing importance.”
As Richard ends: “Onwards!“
Full text here: Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Make UK conference (EEF Feb. 19)
Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, is the representative voice of UK manufacturing, with offices in London, Brussels, every English region and Wales
Manufacturing is the beating heart of our economy. For those employed in the sector, manufacturing doesn’t just offer a good job that pays well, it offers creative and satisfying work. But manufacturing needs the right environment to flourish: high quality infrastructure, a skilled workforce, and open and stable trading relationships.
A government prepared to invest in our economy and pursue an active industrial strategy could bring about a renaissance in manufacturing. The next Labour government will start with infrastructure. Our dilapidated transport, communications, and energy infrastructure is desperately in need of an upgrade.
Labour will unleash a massive programme of investment with a National Transformation Fund delivering £250 billion of direct capital expenditure on infrastructure and R&D, benefitting every region and nation of our country, not just London and the South East.
And we will establish a National Investment Bank to make available a further £250 billion over 10 years in the form of patient capital lent to small and medium-sized enterprises in line with the priorities of our industrial strategy, providing funding for green industries and the technologies of the future.
How can we mobilise industry to help avert the destruction of our climate?
Let me give you an example of the change we need. To avoid climate catastrophe we have to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest. That’s not going to happen by itself. It requires large-scale public investment into renewable energy and home insulation, which will in turn create new opportunities for private enterprise.
This is not a burden. It’s an opportunity to kick-start a Green Jobs Revolution.
Labour’s plans will create at least 400,000 skilled, unionised jobs and bring about a seven-fold increase in offshore wind, double onshore wind, and triple solar power. These new manufacturing and engineering jobs will bring skills and opportunity to parts of the country that have been held back by decades of neglect.
Technology and manufacturing don’t have to be a threat to the environment. Our responsibility is to develop the next generation of technology that will help us preserve our natural world.
Labour is committed to investing on a scale that will transform our economy. Those policies won huge public support at the general election 18 months ago. I’m disappointed that a small number of MPs yesterday decided to take a different path.
But university fees, the scrapping of grants, and cuts to training have made education less accessible just when we need a highly skilled workforce more than ever. So today I am proud to announce the appointment of our Commission on Lifelong Learning to help make the principle of lifelong learning a reality.
The Commission will bring together 14 experts from across education – top names in their fields – including Make UK’s very own Chief Economist Seamus Nevin. It is co-chaired by the former Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, and the General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Dave Ward. Lifelong learning will be available to everyone no matter their background. It will make detailed proposals on how to integrate qualifications, introduce a credits system to make qualifications transferable and make it as easy as possible for people to pick up or pause their studies at times that work for them. Under a Labour government workers will never again be left feeling discarded because there will be an industrial strategy creating good, well-paid jobs and training to help workers learn new skills.
I strongly believe there should be genuine parity between vocational education and academic education.
We have to end the outdated grammar school mentality of looking down on someone who does a vocational course and looking up to someone who does an academic course. I see the skills of electrical work of computer work of design work learned through vocational courses as just as valuable as academic courses taken at university. We need all of those skills in our society. In Germany, where they really value engineering, they say: “You’re a clever kid – get down the metal workshop.’’
We ask employers to step up to invest in their workforce too.
Last week I visited the gear manufacturer Beard and Fitch in Harlow, and met Carol, a supervisor who is partially sighted. She was doing the final checking and polishing of the gears, and she had been provided with big screens to help her do her work. That’s a sensible employer who has made an investment in someone who was very good at her job. And it was paying off.
Earlier this month I wrote to the Prime Minister laying out Labour’s alternative plan based around a permanent customs union with a British say in future trade deals, a strong relationship with the single market and full guarantees on workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental protections. Later this week I will travel to Brussels to discuss it with Michel Barnier and others. Labour has consistently advocated a comprehensive UK-EU customs union to deliver frictionless trade and protect supply chains that stretch across the continent. Disrupting those supply chains would threaten good businesses and skilled jobs that we can’t afford to lose.
Concerns about a ‘no deal’ crash go well beyond the car industry. Take food and drink, which is actually the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. It needs frictionless trade for perishable goods, where time is of the essence. Or steel. Half the steel we produce is exported most of it to the EU. A disastrous ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean trade restrictions on virtually all steel companies’ export markets. And while the big household names get all the media attention, it’s the small and medium-sized manufacturers who will find it most burdensome to adjust to new customs arrangements.
Brexit has crystallised a choice about the kind of economy we want. On the one hand, the harsh economic environment fostered by the Conservatives: low investment, low productivity, low growth and a damaging trade deal with Donald Trump. On the other, Labour’s investment-led approach, underpinned by a close relationship with our European neighbours, in a rebalanced economy that no longer privileges those who lend and speculate over those who make things.
These are anxious times for manufacturers. But the future doesn’t have to be one of decline. With a government that believes in and supports industry, manufacturing will be the engine of innovation in the green economy of the future. Infrastructure, skills, certainty. That’s what manufacturing needs. That’s what only Labour will deliver.
Your chilling, but hardly surprising, front-page revelation that one in four Europeans vote populist was long on excellent analysis, but lacked any solutions. Reversing this trend and its fallout, including Brexit, will require tackling the reasons for its rise:
- widespread concerns about inadequately controlled migration
- and the economic insecurity now rife among both the employed and unemployed.
Tackling the latter will require spelling out a “project hope” agenda which reverses austerity and instead invests in the rebuilding of Europe’s social infrastructure, while also funding a massive green infrastructure programme for transforming the energy, energy-saving and transport systems continent-wide.
Europeans should take inspiration from the US, where progressive new congresswomen and men are now pushing the Democrats into adopting just such a “Green New Deal”.
They realise that a “jobs in every part of the country” programme is central to defeating Trump.
Here, Jeremy Corbyn could play a central role by capitalising on the present parliamentary chaos and asserting that Labour supports a people’s vote, but with the “remain and reform” agenda for Europe, similar to that he “campaigned” for in the run up to the referendum.
Putting rebuilding local economies at the heart of such reform would gain support from leave-voting areas and could be a rallying call for those fighting rightwing populism across Europe. It could also have the domestic payoff of forming the core of Labour’s next and hopefully successful election manifesto, whenever required.
Message received on Mon, 12 November: David Bailey presented Economics for the Many (link to slides) at an interesting event at the WM Labour Party regional office. Over a hundred people came and there was a great discussion.
Professor of Industrial Strategy
Aston Business School
The Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK.
tel: +44 (0)7981 925713 or +44 (0)121 204 5262
David’s Blog: http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/authors/david-bailey/
Jeremy Corbyn’s speech had three crucial and interlinked components:
- the need to transform the economy,
- to prioritise improving conditions in the “left-behind” areas,
- and a call for a “green jobs revolution in every nation and region”.
But your editorial (27 September) made the common mistake of emphasising wind and tidal schemes to help disadvantaged areas. Important as these green energy sources are, the real potential for jobs in every constituency lies in making the UK’s existing 28m dwellings and 2m commercial and public-sector buildings energy-efficient, with renewable technology such as solar PV fitted where feasible. There are, for example, 8m homes with solid walls which are without any effective insulation, and nearly 40m smart meters still need to be installed.
The majority of this work has to be done locally and has the advantage of being hard to automate or relocate abroad; it also requires a wide range of activities and skills that are likely to be needed for decades.
It will therefore inevitably help improve job opportunities for the “left-behind” communities, with resultant knock-on economic benefits for the communities where these workers live and work.
Owen Jones (Labour needed a reset button – and it got one, 27 September) asserted that Jeremy Corbyn’s crucial identification of climate change as the greatest crisis facing humanity made it a bread-and-butter issue.
Equally the role of a green revolution in jobs in improving the lives of those in leave-voting areas could well make it a bread and Brexit issue as well.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke at Labour’s conference in Llandudno on 22nd April and received a huge standing ovation, in spite of the relentless media efforts to portray him negatively while often ignoring or even covering up the disarray on the government’s front benches.
A transcript is not available but his 2017 speech is well worth revisiting: http://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/articles/jeremy-corbyns-speech-to-the-welsh-labour-conference/
What Labour in Wales has achieved:
A health service free from unnecessary top-down reorganisations and privatisation where your hospitals are not struggling with record deficits due to the legacy of PFI. The NHS in Wales is treating more people than ever before and 90% say they received good treatment
- Free prescriptions for all
- A new treatment fund setup for life threatening illnesses
- On cancer waiting times, Wales is doing better than England and cancer survival rates in Wales are improving faster than anywhere in Britain
- You’ve protected the social care budget which has been slashed in England
- and there are good industrial relations in Wales: no strikes provoked and no operations cancelled unnecessarily
We strongly support the doctors who don’t want patient safety to be put at risk. Last week I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with a group of junior doctors. Let’s be clear, they are not “junior” they are dedicated, highly qualified people on whom we all depend. They are alarmed at the direction the NHS is taking.
As a parting gift they gave me this book “How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps” which starts with an internal market and ends with an aim of introducing universal private health insurance.
As Nye Bevan said: “Illness is a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community”.
In Wales you have built an education system that has just delivered the best ever GCSE results
- new schools are being built
- primary school pupils get a free breakfast
- the poorest college students still get the education maintenance allowance (EMA)
- And where Welsh students aren’t shackled by mountainous debt and where grants are being maintained.
English students leave university with an average £22,000 more in debt than Welsh students; that is a shocking burden that shackles young people as they start in life. It is no surprise that home ownership has collapsed.
Jobs Growth Wales has helped 15,000 young people into work
- The Young Entrepreneurs Bursary has helped young people to setup over 400 businesses in Wales and your plans to deliver 100,000 quality apprenticeships.
- the Bay Campus at Swansea is already reaping the benefits of high tech jobs in the area.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that tax and benefit changes in the last five years have left the average Welsh household £560 a year worse off.
Tax cuts for the few, the super-rich and big business public service cuts and welfare cuts for the many. We have gratuitous inequality in this country the average pay of the top chief executives compared with the average worker has risen from 47 times in 1998 to 183 times last year.
For too many people in the UK who aren’t the super-rich elite and there are quite a few of them, life is wracked by insecurity, at work and at home, Labour believes that we only succeed if we all succeed together.
The impact of this insecurity on people’s lives can be huge, it affects people’s physical and mental health.
The Tories have failed to invest in modernising the economy, we are way behind other countries on our digital infrastructure, our transport, our energy system and our housing.
70 Labour councils have committed to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050 – including major cities like Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, and Liverpool and here in Wales in Swansea, Torfaen and Caerphilly. And Labour in Wales has set out a clear energy policy, Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition and is supporting decentralised energy production through the Local Energy Service.
The Conservative government continues to fail to invest in renewable energy cut subsidies for the nascent solar industry but increased them for fracking and for diesel generators.
If our investment in flood defences had been continued, retaining the senior staff employed to make decisions in these emergencies and protecting the emergency services who responded to save lives and homes during those difficult days and weeks, we would not have seen the level of destruction and flood damage that caused such anguish to so many people as their homes were damaged and their belongings ruined.
Transport infrastructure is absolutely crucial to industrial development and growth. I praise the Welsh government in its support in re-opening and improving valley railway lines, the plans for the improved metro links in the south west of Wales and the crucial need to improve the North Wales line and road links.
We have already challenged the government and won on many important issues:
- We forced them to take a U-turn on cuts to working tax credits meaning 3 million families will no longer be hit this April with a £1,000 cut to their family income
- We made them backtrack on plans to further cut police numbers in their Autumn statement
- And we stood against the horrendous proposal that the UK would run Saudi Arabia’s prison system for them
Our party is one of social justice every child deserves a good education every student the option to study at college or university everyone deserves a decent and secure home to live in nobody should ever be left destitute the grotesque levels of inequality are unjustifiable and must go.
We are living through an era of the most grotesque deepening inequality in Britain and the West. The cynics say that inevitably the next generation will be worse of that this, I say this is not inevitable and not necessary as socialist our duty is to expand the wealth but crucially to share it so the next generation is better off than this one, and our grandchildren will be better off than our children.