Wednesday 21 March 2012

Budget 2012: The green imperative

Give the Green Investment Bank real power. Now.

When it comes to crises, this generation is spoilt. I’d like to talk about 3 in particular. The climate crisis, the public attitudes to climate crisis and the economic crisis. There is one thing that could go someway to addressing all of these crises: A Green Investment Bank with real power. George Osborne should use the budget to give it real power. Immediately.

 The climate crisis has been well documented and evidenced. The threat of dangerous climate change is immense and real. Thanks to a powerful anti-climate PR machine and some hacking of University of East Anglia computers, we also have a public attitudes to climate crisis. Evidence from upcoming Fabian Society research has further confirmed this. Our focus groups on aviation policy have shown that public attitudes towards climate change are increasingly characterised by suspicion of exaggerated climate science.

This means that how the Government acts and deals with climate issues is of great importance not only for policy outcomes, but also for public perceptions.

 We also have an economic crisis. Large infrastructure projects are an effective economic stimulus. Keynes has taught as us much. Rachel Reeves also makes very good arguments for this in her Left Foot Forward article

The urgency of both the economic and climate crises mean that we cannot afford to delay the investment in green infrastructure. And what is worse, failing to do so only exacerbates the public attitudes to climate crisis. Why? Because if climate change is, as David Cameron states, one of, if not the greatest challenge facing our generation, then why is the Green Investment Bank something that can wait a few years before it becomes effective?

 Let us give the Green Investment Bank real power and send the message out that the UK will not tolerate sluggish growth, and furthermore, this country is taking the climate challenge seriously. Responsible capitalism needs responsible Government. Right now we have neither.

At next week’s Climate Justice conference, we’ll be talking in more depth about how to win the public argument on climate using notions of fairness and responsibility. What will you be doing to play your part Gideon?

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