Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

One Million Climate Jobs

I am an anti-fracking campaigner.

Now fracking is a nightmare that we will be well rid of, but the problem with nightmares is that they are very limited in their power to get people to change. Much more powerful are dreams. This report of part of my dream for a better world.

It's subject is political economy, which the Victorian Radical John Ruskin defined as "the production, preservation and distribution, at the fittest time and place, of useful and pleasurable things". If an economy does not do that it's not working, and our economy is not working. The poor are going to the wall, the Middle Class is disappearing, richest 1% have more wealth than they can possibly need and the richest 0.1% make the 1% look like paupers. What's more if we continue to overshoot the carrying capacity of Planet Earth it will get worse. The current situation is environmentally and socially unsustainable.

This pamphlet starts with the assumption that living within our ecological limits should be the first consideration of an economy not the last, but also that along with environmental prudence must come social justice. Because although we are all on the same sinking ship, some people are nearer the hole than others.

As I've said, I am opposed to shale gas. But let me say something that may surprise you. There are two things about fracking I really like.

Firstly, it makes people think about where their energy comes from. We all know about the wars we fight and the people we torture to get our oil, we know about the dangers of Arctic oil and the devastation that is tar sands, we know about Fukushima and the Gulf of Mexico. But these are things that happen far away. Even if you are an aware person they can seem unreal. But when a fracking rig arrives in your backyard, the choice about how we make our energy becomes very real indeed.

Secondly fracking, or rather the opposition to fracking, has brought a wide range of people together; anarchists, socialists, Trade Unionists, environmentalists, anarchist socialist Trade Unionist environmentalists - but that could be just me. And when we get together we find we have more in common than not.

When Old Skool left wingers talk about nationalising the power supply, and when Greens call for community energy we are talking about the same thing. Whether your community is Barton Moss or Hamburg or England, it’s the same thing. Now if people own their own power it’s up to them how they generate it, but I don’t see many communities clubbing together to buy a fracking rig, or a tar sands operation or an open cast coal mine.

Thinking about how we generate our energy is just one of the areas this report looks at. It also looks at how were we live and work, how we travel and how we farm and dispose of our waste. It's about embracing new technologies, but also old values. It's about solar panels and tidal power, but also about bikes, trains and warm houses.

Lets look at the figures; 400,000 Climate Jobs in Energy, 180,000 in building, 310,000 in transport and with more in training, education, farming and recycling it makes One Million Climate jobs. Those are the numbers. The details are in the report, but you probably already know them. We know what needs to be done, we just need to it. What this report shows is why we will want to do it.
Nysted Offshore Wind Farm (Danish Energy Authority)
And those One Million Climate jobs will create at least another 500,000 jobs supplying the nuts and bolts and gaffer tape and everything else needed by those one million climate workers. Then there will also be at least another 250,000 non-climate jobs as the workers in the new jobs spend their money on beer and football and fish and chips, or Chianti and tennis and sun-dried tomatoes, depending on which social class I choose to stereotype. But either way they will have money to spend as these will be real jobs. Not social engineering via zero hours contracts, not financial engineering via the City of London, but real engineering, just like how we used to do it.

How do we pay for all this? Well, we have already paid for the alternative. Each of us has paid £6000 towards bailing out the banks, which is probably more than most of us will give to Greenpeace, or the Green Party or paid in union subs. When the money was needed, governments found it. They need to find it again because finance serves industry, not the other way round, and because the Earth is too big to fail too.

We can stop the richest tax payers paying a tax rate that is half what it was when Winston Churchill was last Prime Minister. We can stop the richest people paying no tax at all. We can have a Robin Hood tax on the silly money that flies around the ether and we can have a mansion tax on the silly celebrities who think £2 million will only buy you a garage in London.

How do you get people to change to a low carbon way of living? There are four levers that will push people in the right direction and I expect we'll use a combination of them all.

Firstly there's Peak Oil. Not much sign of that right now I'll admit, but just wait. It will return. Oil will not be this cheap forever.

Secondly governments can subsidise the good. Make Public Transport so cheap only Jeremy Clarkson would drive.

Thirdly we can tax the bad. Every high-carbon industry in the world has modelled the effect of a minimum carbon price on its business. They are expecting it. We just need to do it.

Finally, because we believe in fairness above all else, we can use carbon rationing. The Fleming Policy Centre, a handful of people existing on almost no money, have developed a system of Tradable Energy Quotas and even managed to get Parliament to produce a report on it. Rather more amazingly the New Economic Foundation managed to get the head of the World Trade Organisation to admit that if the EU introduced a system of carbon rationing it would be perfectly entitled to put up tariff barriers to make it work. It won't be easy, but it's possible.

So here it is, a report that shows how the solution to our ecological crisis is also the solution to our social crisis. But on its own this pamphlet is just so many words and numbers. On its own it does nothing. Only if all of us use it as a tool to campaign for change we need will it have the power to make a difference. We need to campaign for the National Climate Agency and if we can't get that we must campaign for local action. We must show people how for every ten fracking jobs we prevent we potentially create a 100 climate jobs.

And we must do this together.

The Climate Change deniers, funded by those who benefit most from our current system of austerity for the poor and socialism for the rich, tell people that Climate Change is a conspiracy between the Greens and the socialists to take their wealth and turn our economic system upside down.

Let's make their worst nightmares come true.

One Million Climate Jobs report

No comments: