A Green New Deal

February 10, 2019

As Mayor I will:

  • Declare a Climate Emergency
  • Build eco-friendly social housing and plant trees
  • Create a community owned green energy company
  • Tackle food waste and food poverty
  • Provide world class environmental education

There’s no challenge that we face more critical than addressing the dire threat of global warming.  NASA has just reported that of the 19 warmest years on record, 18 were since 2001, and the threats – which are extraordinary – are escalating.  It’s therefore most encouraging to learn that Jamie Driscoll  is planning to work to implement a Green New Deal, if elected.

Noam Chomsky

Policy:  A Green New Deal: Global Means Local!

“Climate Change is the single biggest threat to life, security and prosperity on Earth,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report this autumn warned that humanity has just 11 years left to take emergency action in order to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown.

Climate change hits the poorest in society and we are already seeing its impact across the globe. The UK will be hit hard if action is not taken now: forecasts predict a trebling of deaths caused by extreme heat by the year 2050, with more frequent and severe disruptive flooding events, and an increasingly perilous food supply. As flood-prone homes become uninsurable and impossible to sell, as food prices rise, and as air quality worsens, those least able to fend for themselves will suffer the worst. Strong environmental policy is a matter of justice. And it must be a priority.  

This is a global threat – and requires local action. We cannot leave it to others.  That’s why I’m making a commitment to act on the scale and at the pace required. I will push the boundaries of the Mayor’s role to influence others to take bold action, to tackle climate change, improve our environment, and build a sustainable economy that works for the many, not the few.

A Green New Deal combines economic sustainability with environmental sustainability.  Giving the North of Tyne area a more democratic, locally owned economy will increase employment and wages, and reduce the environmental stress we place on our planet.  

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) outline the positive steps that can be taken to integrate urgent climate change action with reducing poverty and improving quality of life. Here is the framework for the actions I propose.

As Mayor I will:

Declare a Climate Emergency

  • Upon taking office I will declare a Climate Emergency.  
  • Parliament has agreed to a 40% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 (based on 1990 levels) This is not sufficient to limit the worst effects of climate change on our communities.  
  • Pursue a net-zero carbon policy by 2030. This will involve working with the local councils and partners across the region.
  • A Climate Change Liaison Group will be established immediately and will involve Councillors, residents, young citizens and experts from our Universities and other relevant parties. Funds will be allocated to provide skilled staff to support the work of the Climate Change Liaison Group.
  • The Group will review the current Climate Change Strategy and help local Councils and other partners develop a new carbon budget taking into account both production and consumption of emissions by 2020.
  • Convene a Citizens’ Assembly in 2019 to identify how the region’s activities might be made net-zero carbon by 2030.  
  • Support divestment from fossil fuels across the public sector within 3 years, including pension fund divestment.  

Provide World Class Environmental Education

  • Education is the key to enabling many other UN Sustainable Development Goals. Quality education unlocks human potential, empowering people to escape the cycle of poverty.
  • In its first year, the Mayor’s Authority will develop a team of specialists to engage school kids in the science and the behavioural changes needed for climate action, including how to grow food and tackle food waste.  
  • Fund adult education to make the North of Tyne the leader in the skills needed to implement the 1 Million Climate Jobs Agenda.  Tackling climate change goes hand-in-hand with providing high-quality green jobs.
  • Support the capabilities of our Universities and Industries to gain additional research funding into environmental technology as part of our social transformation.

Tackle Food Waste: Social and Economic Benefits

  • The UK currently wastes 10 million tonnes of food each year and this is expected to rise by a further 1.1 million by 2025.
  • Reduce food waste in line with the UN goal of halving the amount of food waste by 2030.
  • Work with supermarkets to reduce food waste. This can be achieved through better inventory management, and distributing unsold food to foodbanks, food co-operatives, and pay-as-you-feel community cafes.  
  • Reduce food miles. Public sector catering, such as school and works’ canteens will be linked with local food producers, tailoring menus to source local ingredients. Private sector caterers will be encouraged to do the same.
  • Promote local food growth and urban gardening.
  • Lobby businesses & promote Sustainability Awards for those that reduce plastic usage.

Deliver Renewable Energy: Creating Sustainable Communities

  • Set up a Community Owned Power Company that supplies green energy.
  • Run the Mayoral authority on 100% sustainable electricity.
  • Work with local communities to ensure they benefit from cooperatively owned renewable generation, maximising the number of possible sites for energy-generating installations.  
  • Support innovations in the peer-to-peer market to provide a cooperative alternative to energy companies exploitation of householders who have solar panels – enabling them to sell electricity to local suppliers.
  • Promote climate technology and innovation in the area of biofuels, microgeneration, and energy efficiency technologies.  Working with universities, start-ups, and innovation funding agencies, make the North of Tyne a world leader in green energy.

Create Sustainable Land Use: Agriculture, Housing and Greenspace

  • Build cooperatively-owned fair-rent community housing that locks carbon away in its construction, has the highest standards of energy efficiency, and includes viable micro-generation.  This will help combat both homelessness and fuel poverty. 
  • Establish Community Land Trusts where people can buy their own homes, built using carbon-sequestration to lock carbon away.  Environmentally-aware planning creates communities with local services, reducing car journeys. 
  • Fundamental reform is required to ensure land becomes a more effective carbon store, whilst early action is needed to maximise the benefits from changing how land is used. The UK report on land use recommends significant change in land use is necessary to create a sustainable society.
  • Accelerate tree planting, involving schools, voluntary organisations, and community and religious groups. This may be encouraged by the use of grants and funding support.
  • Identify areas of land that are unsuitable for other uses, specifically within urban environments. These can be rewilded by planting trees and improving biodiversity.
  • Alternative uses of land can be economic for farmers and land managers, but Government must provide help for this. I will work with the Government to define a new land strategy.

These are the Green New Deal headlines.  There is much more to do such as improving cycling facilities and public transport, and making full use of environmental sustainability clauses in public sector supply contracts.

By taking a lead on these policies, and providing the initial money to get them started, we can enable further funding to be available. We can make a start locally to combat the climate crisis we face.  

A red-green agenda can make sure that tackling climate change creates wealth and high quality employment within our communities, by encouraging local production and consumption – making and using things locally. Only by matching environmental sustainability with the democratisation of our local economies can we mitigate a climate disaster.