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Green News

Here we bring you the latest news from the Green Party (and beyond). We would love to hear from you on any of the topics so please feel free to comment and add you opinions.  However, all comments will be moderated and offensive or disrespectful reponses to any particular blog will be removed.

 

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Latest Posts

3 March 2021

  • Jonathan Bartley: “The economy is not somehow separate from the environment but entirely dependent on it”

In response to the Chancellor’s Budget announcement today, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

 

We are deeply disappointed that, in the middle of a climate emergency, the Chancellor has failed to put climate at the heart of his Budget today. It’s no good talking about the climate the week before the Budget and the week afterwards and then sidelining it in the Budget itself. The economy is not somehow separate from the environment but entirely dependent on it.

 

“We welcome the launch of the first Green Bond, although would call for independent and stringent monitoring to avoid greenwashing. We also welcome action on electric vehicles, although this is no substitute for the modal shift in transport, moving people out of cars and onto fast, efficient, and accessible public transport, as well as supporting active travel.

 

“The change to the Bank of England mandate so that it favours lending to sustainable sectors does sound promising, but we need to see the small print to see just how successful this will be.

 

‘The freezing of fuel duty is another disappointment, but we would have gone much further than just returning to the annual escalator by imposing a high and rising carbon tax on all fossil fuels. A carbon tax is the fastest and most efficient way to make the biggest polluting companies pay for the carbon they emit, signalling to markets that we are serious about rapid progress towards net zero.

 

“The Chancellor had an opportunity in the year the UK hosts the UN climate talks to show global leadership. He has utterly failed to do that.”

 

ENDS

 

1 March 2021

  • Jonathan Bartley: “The Chancellor has an opportunity this week to show how seriously the UK government takes its position as chair of COP26”

The Green Party has urged the Chancellor to use this week’s Spring Budget to show the level of ambition required as chair of COP26 and make sure the biggest polluters pay for the carbon they emit at great cost to us all.

 

Ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Budget announcement on Wednesday (3 March), the Greens have put forward their proposals to shift the economy towards more urgent climate action while also ensuring support is provided to those who are suffering the most during the Covid crisis. [1]

 

Central to these plans is an upstream carbon tax which would see the biggest polluters pay the most for CO2 emissions at source, with the money raised paid out to those in society who need it most.

 

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

 

“We know the climate emergency is here and we know we need to drive down emissions as quickly as possible if we are to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

 

“The Chancellor has an opportunity this week to show how seriously the UK government takes its position as chair of COP26 and to start pulling some powerful economic levers to create a shift away from fossil fuels and towards a cleaner, healthier future for us all.

 

“A carbon tax is the fastest and most efficient way to put a high and rising price on carbon, signalling to markets that we are serious about rapid progress towards net zero.

 

“We need a huge shift away from business as usual and towards the kinds of policies that will improve life for everybody, such as investing in a huge retrofit programme to make sure everybody has a warm home and investing in cheap and accessible public transport to help dramatically reduce car miles.”

 

The Green Party’s proposals for the Spring Budget includes:

  • A carbon tax of £100 per tonne of carbon dioxide rising to £500 by 2030 on fossil fuel companies, applied to all emissions, with some of the tax yield used to compensate those on lower incomes
  • Reverse the VAT incentive on construction away from new build and towards renovation, with a reduced 5% rate of VAT on retrofit and low-energy products [2]
  • A Universal Basic Income, without conditions, to protect people against ongoing turbulence from Covid
  • Make the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent as a first step on the path towards a full review of the resilience of our welfare system, whose weakness - especially on sick pay - was exposed during the crisis
  • Transfer the £27bn destined for unnecessary and polluting road-building towards investment in cheap and accessible public transport and active travel options
  • Extend the business rate holiday and VAT exemption for as long as is necessary for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with the UK government providing compensation to local authorities for loss of income

Green Party finance spokesperson Molly Scott Cato said:

 

“We are calling on the Chancellor to commit to a carbon tax on the scale required to live up to the promises of global climate leadership made by the Prime Minister. This would place him in a strong position to build a coalition for such a policy to be adopted on a global basis at COP26 later this year.

 

“The rhetoric on climate has strengthened and now is the time for policies to follow suit. Joe Biden’s $2 trillion climate action plan makes the £3 billion of new money committed by this government look laughable. We need the Chancellor to invest in a Green Recovery on the scale required both to tackle the climate emergency and provide new jobs and training for those who face unemployment as a result of Covid.”

 

ENDS

Notes

1

The Green Party’s full Spring Budget proposal is available here

2

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/573207&sa=D&source=editors&ust=1614617028576000&usg=AOvVaw1zWousKEMeNJY4aPB0ig8K

 

25 February 2021

 

The Green-led council in Brighton and Hove has put forward plans to commit to investing more than £27 million into climate action in the city to help improve the lives of residents and tackle climate change. [1]

 

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and despite swingeing government cuts, which have seen Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) lose £100 million over ten years of Conservative austerity, Brighton and Hove Green Party councillors have put forward their plans for a Green recovery in the city which will be decided at the authority’s budget meeting on Thursday [25 February].

 

The plans include:

  • £5.2m on the Brighton & Hove Warmer Homes Investment Fund which will make grants available to all residents in the city particularly low-income households. This will allow residents to update the insulation and heating systems in their homes, lowering both their fuel bills and their carbon footprint.
  • A total of £7m on Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Investment Funds, which will provide funding to departments for projects that meet council sustainability priorities
  • £1.7m combined to invest in parks and open spaces, creating new school streets, low traffic neighbourhoods and the expansion of the Brighton BikeShare scheme.

Green Party Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said:

 

“One year into the coronavirus pandemic, and with the climate crisis looming ever larger, it has become increasingly clear that it is down to local councils and communities to step up and deliver the kind of support and transformational change that the government is simply not prepared to do.

 

“Despite years of budget cuts we have prepared a budget which will not only keep local services on their feet and get people through this immediate health crisis, it will actually help improve all of our lives in ways that will tackle the spiralling climate emergency.

 

“This budget offers a Green recovery for Brighton and Hove, offering protection for the most vulnerable in the city, creating jobs and helping to build a cleaner, healthier and Greener future for us all.”

 

The budget proposal would also see the creation of a £4m reserve fund to kickstart a huge retrofitting scheme for all council homes in the city by 2030.

 

The investment plans put forward would be paid for by a rise in council tax, with those on low incomes protected from any increase in payments, a responsible and necessary use of the council’s reserves and sustainable borrowing at the current historic low rates.

 

Green Party Councillor David Gibson, joint finance lead on BHCC, said:

 

“Our priority is for a fair budget; where charges go up, we increase support for people struggling with council tax; and exempt low-income households from Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) increases.

 

“It’s a budget for recovery – instead of slashing services and jobs in a recession, we have used a modest amount of reserves to cover some of the extra costs of the pandemic, leaving enough resources to invest in public services and recovery right now, when it is certainly most needed. Crucially, as we head towards recovery, these reserves are repaid.

 

“This budget also fights to protect residents from another huge emergency: our climate crisis. We’ve worked to create green jobs, promote community wealth, and aid recovery in public projects. Projects such as building much needed additional council homes, warmer homes, easier to heat and climate friendly, will make a huge difference.

 

“Planting trees, investing in sustainable, active travel options and supporting our cultural and tourism recovery will also be key to getting our city back on its feet, able to rise to future challenges and thrive again.”

 

ENDS

Notes

1

Here is a full breakdown of climate action investment in Brighton and Hove City Council’s budget:

  • Solar panels for corporate buildings - £500,000
  • Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Investment Fund (SCRIF) - £3.1m
  • Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Investment Fund - Transport - £3.9m
  • Brighton Bikeshare Replacement Programme - £467,000
  • Pocket Parks – Parks and Open Spaces - £350,000
  • School Streets – Transport - £50,000
  • Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – Transport - £300,000
  • Brighton & Hove Warmer Homes Investment Fund - £5.2m
  • Climate Assembly Actions - £1.3m
  • Domestic and communal heating improvements in council houses - £2.24m
  • Funding over two years to replace inefficient heating systems across all council housing stock and to consider opportunities to improve the energy rating and identify projects that will help to contribute to the target of being carbon neutral by 2030 - £4.8m
  • Installation of a district heating network - £1.1m
  • Home energy efficiency, insulation improvements and renewables - £300,000
  • New Solar PV panels across council housing stock - £1.750m

Total - £27.057 million

  • In addition to this investment, the council would put aside an extra £4m into reserves to go towards a retrofit scheme for all council houses. The authority aims to have a fully-costed report by November which will set out how the council's housing stock can be retrofitted over the next nine years and how much it will cost. In the meantime, consultation work will begin with residents.
 

22 February 2021

 

The Green Party is urging the government to introduce additional measures to protect schools which could save lives and avoid another lockdown in the coming months.

 

The Green Party Education Spokesperson Vix Lowthion said:

“It is vital to stop transmission in schools by introducing effective protections to make them safer - such as masks in classrooms, adequate ventilation, a rota system and utilising outdoor and community spaces to allow social distancing as part of a phased return to school.

 

“These protections are commonplace in European nations, and a phased return is what is happening in Scotland and Wales. This government's belief in English exceptionalism is incredibly dangerous.

 

“If new, additional protections are not introduced then we could face exactly the same issues as we did in December, and a fourth lockdown in the coming months.”

 

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley added:

“It is essential that Boris Johnson carefully follows the science as the nation comes out of our third lockdown. In the past the government has lifted restrictions too quickly, causing thousands of people to tragically lose their lives, many more than should have been the case.

 

“The chancellor has a chance at the upcoming March budget to provide financial security for all those struggling to deal with the economic hardships the pandemic has brought. It is vital he acts with the interests of the most vulnerable at the centre of his attention.”

 

ENDS

19 February 2021

  • Jonathan Bartley: “As COP chair the UK government needs to get its own house in order when it comes to climate change and demonstrate the global leadership required so that others can follow suit”

The Green Party has welcomed the US’ official return to the Paris Climate Agreement today. [1]

 

It has now warned the UK government that as chair it is responsible for ensuring this year’s crucial COP talks bring forth the necessary global commitments to prevent catastrophic climate change.

 

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

 

“The return of the US to the Paris climate agreement is vital if we are to secure any meaningful climate action at this year’s COP summit.

 

“As one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters, the US’ involvement in such a crucial international agreement should never have been put in doubt by the Trump administration, and today is a significant reminder of how grateful we should all be that his presidency is over.

 

“This year’s COP is the most crucial ever. Unfortunately, it is clear that we have left it far too late to stop damaging climate change from happening, but if we are to stand any chance of staying within the 1.5 degree warming limit and preventing the most extreme outcomes, all countries must act with great urgency.

 

“As COP chair the UK government needs to get its own house in order when it comes to climate change and demonstrate the global leadership required so that others can follow suit. As long as it keeps opening new coal mines, expanding airports and building new roads its climate commitments cannot be taken seriously.

 

“The US’ official return to the Paris agreement today has made it possible for the world to take the necessary action to prevent runaway climate change. It is now up to the UK government to step up and make sure this happens.”

 

ENDS

Notes

1

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/19/us-official-return-paris-climate-pact

 

12 February 2021

 

Penrith and Eden Green Party are cautiously celebrating the news that Cumbria County Council will reconsider the application for a new deep coal mine on the Copeland coast near Whitehaven.  

 

Green Party Councillor and campaigner Ali Ross said:

 

"We are outraged that the Government has failed to intervene in this case – which is clearly of national and global importance – and at a time when the UK is supposed to be leading on climate action as chair of COP26.

 

"It is abundantly clear that the grounds on which Cumbria County Council approved this planning application are totally flawed.  The mine will not be 'carbon neutral' as claimed by the developers.  Far from it, it will result in massive carbon emissions that will further destabilise our already dangerously unbalanced climate."

 

Cllr Ross also refuted the commonly cited argument that the coking coal from this mine is essential to the future of steel production in the UK:

 

"Less than 15% of the coal from this mine is actually destined for the UK market; the rest will be exported. Steel production is currently one of our most carbon intensive industries and that has to change. Low carbon production technology exists and is well on its way to commercial use. The UK should be speeding up that process, not slowing it down by investing in more outdated coal sources."

 

Cllr Ross also challenged the suggestion that the coal mine was necessary to protect local jobs:

 

"Of course we are all sympathetic to County Councillors’ desire to create jobs in West Cumbria, but this project never looked likely to deliver the massive opportunities that were promised.

"Coking coal is a climate destroying fuel that would inevitably result in the community being let down again. The Government should be providing jobs in green technologies instead. 

 

"Cumbria has enormous potential for renewable energy, green transport infrastructure and retrofitting homes to bring them up to good energy efficiency standards – to name but a few. What West Cumbria needs is investment and training that will create long-term jobs for a sustainable future."

 

The Council stated that its decision was made in light of the recommendations from the Government’s Climate Change Committee [1], issued in December, regarding the UK’s future greenhouse gas emissions.  The application will now go back to Committee for a fourth time.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sixth-carbon-budget/

 

12 February 2021

  • Party commends National Audit Office emphasis on the need for strategic use of tax system to support pro-environment action

Responding to today’s National Audit Office report on environmental tax measures [1], Green Party finance spokesperson Molly Scott Cato said:

 

“We support the National Audit Office’s conclusions that the government is failing to understand the role of environmental taxes in shifting our economy towards a more sustainable future. 

 

“Environmental taxes have been at the heart of our policy agenda since our foundation and, while some have been adopted by government, it has been in an apologetic and piecemeal way that has failed to realise their full potential.

 

“However, we regret that the NAO has not gone further in recommending a high and rising rate of carbon tax, which would represent the strongest signal to business that the government is serious about making rapid progress towards our net zero carbon targets.

 

“Our policy of a carbon tax of £100 per tonne rising to £500 by 2030 is commensurate with the urgency of the situation we are facing. [2] As an upstream tax charged when fossil fuels come out of the ground or are imported it is also efficient to levy. We would match it with a universal basic income to offset increases in consumer prices.

 

“We welcome the NAO’s suggestion that Air Passenger Duty should be seen as a strategic environmental tax and call on the government to adopt our longstanding policy of a Frequent Flyer Levy. This could be used to shift long-distance journeys from air to rail when journeys resume after the pandemic.

 

“We would also encourage the government to use the powerful VAT regime as a tool to address the climate emergency. One example is the need to reverse the presumption in favour of new build over retrofit, which works counter to the government’s stated objective of rapid reductions in CO2 emissions.” [3]

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

https://www.nao.org.uk/report/environmental-tax-measures/?slide=1

2

The Green Party’s 10 point plan for real climate ambition can be seen here: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/Communications/10_Point_Climate_Plan.pdf

3

The Green Party recently launched this petition to shift the VAT incentive away from new build homes and towards retrofit: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/573207

 

11 February 2021

  • Jonathan Bartley: “The profit motive has no place in health care”

The Green Party has called for an end to privatisation and greater power for local public health bodies as the government presents its plan to reform the NHS. [1]

 

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

 

“The first priority for any NHS reorganisation is to end the internal market and restore the principle that the profit motive has no place in health care. The 2012 reorganisation opened the door ever wider to the private market, and we must remove this disease from the heart of the system. 

 

“Caroline Lucas’ NHS Reinstatement Bill - introduced to Parliament almost six years ago - sets out our blueprint to reverse the damage caused by both Labour and Conservative governments labouring under an ideological mistake that the market could solve all problems.”

 

Bartley also called for more power to be devolved local public health bodies who best know and understand the needs of their communities:

 

“The return to a more coordinated approach that would bring together all those concerned with the UK’s health would be a welcome move. However, the timing of the white paper suggests a central government power-grab in the midst of the greatest crisis ever faced by our NHS.

 

“We need to see devolution of more power over health to the local level. As we have seen throughout this pandemic, it is local public health experts who are best placed to serve their communities. It is these experts who should have been entrusted with the test and trace system, instead of the highly-centralised system based on private companies which has been a categorical failure.

 

“We will be closely scrutinising the proposals to ensure they address the issues of chronic underfunding to social care and address how the NHS will meet the growing needs of our older population.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-55985910

 

9 February 2021

 

The Green Party has called on the UK government to step up as chair of this year’s UN climate talks and lead the transition away from fossil fuels in light of a report which suggests national oil companies are set to invest more than $400 billion in costly oil and gas projects. [1]

 

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

 

“It’s clear for us all to see that fossil fuels are an energy source of the past. That state-owned companies are willing to risk global climate goals in order for one last big payday is a shocking reminder of the greed that has driven this planet to the brink of catastrophe.

 

“As chair of this year’s COP, the UK government has a huge role to play in showing there is a different way forward and how we can all benefit from a fairer, greener world, and enabling other countries to share in this.

 

“Unfortunately, by opening a new coal mine and investing billions into new roads, this Conservative government continues to undermine its own climate commitments and its ability to influence others at this year’s crucial talks.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes

1

Natural Resource Governance Institute's report "Risky Bet: National Oil Companies in the Energy Transition":

https://resourcegovernance.org/analysis-tools/publications/risky-bet-national-oil-companies-energy-transition

 

 

5 February 2021

  • Local elections should be delayed if there’s any risk to democracy or public health say Greens

This year’s local elections must be postponed unless the whole country is back in the equivalent to tier 3 or below by the end of March in order to ensure a free, fair and safe election, the Green Party has warned.

 

Despite guidance from Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith that the government will work with political parties to ensure the elections can take place [1], the Greens have not had any reassurances from government over how the elections can go ahead if parties are not allowed to campaign. 

 

This follows previous government guidance that leafleting by political parties was not exempt from the current coronavirus restrictions. [2]

 

Now, amid increasing uncertainty over councils’ ability to hold the May elections safely [3] and the ability for candidates to campaign, the Green Party has called on the Government to set out contingency plans to make sure we can hold free, fair and safe elections.

 

Green co-leader Jonathan Bartley has said in the interests of both people’s health and the integrity of the UK’s democratic values, the Government must prepare to move the elections to a new date if the current time frame is not safe or fair.

 

Bartley said:

 

“We expect elections in this country to be both free and fair. People have a right to vote in safety and candidates have a right to engage with their communities in order to put their case forward in calling for votes.

 

 “The Government’s dithering on the election date and their direct instruction on campaigning means serious questions have been raised over who is making such decisions when there is clearly a conflict of interest.

 

“Our democracy is too precious for the rules governing it to be determined by one political party. Any decision on campaigning should be decided by a body such as the Electoral Commission, in consultation with Public Health England, not a party that may stand to gain from such a decision.”

 

The official election period starts on 29th March [4]. The Greens have said the government must now look at whether any part of the country is likely to remain above tier 3 by the end of March, and if so the election has to be postponed.

 

If the current restrictions continue beyond this time, then major concerns will be raised over how fair the election will be.

 

Bartley said:

 

“Unless the whole ‘official election period’ from late March can be conducted under open conditions, allowing free campaigning, and voters can vote in safety, then the elections should be delayed. And that decision should be taken as soon as possible to avoid any further damage to the integrity of the UK’s democratic system.”

 

ENDS

Notes 

1

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/local-elections-in-england-and-wales-are-given-green-light-for-may-6/ar-BB1dpD23

2

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/local-elections-2021-campaigning-coronavirus-criticised-liberal-democrats-green-party-844145

3

Report of Council CEOs and electoral returning officers:https://lgiu.org/publication/free-fair-and-safe/

4

https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-11/Election-timetable-LGE%20election.doc

 

 

 

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