There is no doubt that we are in the grips of a climate crisis. With Australia quite literally on fire, unprecedented and devastating floods across the globe and the official statistics show that the last decade was the hottest ever: we are in urgent need of positive action on a colossal scale.
Citizens are rightly demanding change. Our young people are demanding action to prevent an unstoppable, catastrophic climate breakdown. We owe it to our children, communities and society’s vulnerable members, to do everything we can to reduce carbon emissions and to restore and protect biodiversity.
Recently, I launched a report on The Green New Deal in the North West. The report outlines a rapid transition to zero-carbon energy, nature-friendly economy, thousands of rewarding jobs…a true ‘Green Northern Powerhouse’. The report also includes a ‘traffic light’ system: what needs to stop (red), where we should tread with caution (amber) and where we can expand and accelerate (green). It focuses on five key areas of energy, industry, buildings, land and food, and transport.
Fossil fuel developments are a red light and expensive new nuclear must not be supported over cheap, mature renewables. The fracking moratorium must be progressed to an all-out ban. It is simply unsustainable to consider such a dirty industry when renewable energy has advanced so quickly.
Onshore and offshore wind, solar and green hydrogen power has the capacity to create up to 46,000 jobs in Northern England alone in the next 10 years, and as many as 100,000 by 2050.
Increasing the energy efficiency of our buildings is an obvious way of tackling both the climate emergency and delivering social justice for all. Fuel poverty is higher in the North West than anywhere else in the country. Well-insulated, warm homes mean healthier residents with less spending on public health. Upgrading buildings in the region could create up to 35,000 skilled jobs by 2030.
Land and Food
The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world for land use and food production and the North West in particular, has the lowest forest cover in the UK.
‘The Northern Forest’ is a partnership between the Woodland Trust and local community forest organisations, with plans to plant 50 million trees across the North, from Liverpool to Hull.
The GND report highlights many low carbon initiatives already underway in the region. One example includes Crystal Doors, a small Rochdale manufacturer, which has reduced its energy use by 75%: the reduction of carbon footprint underpins every aspect of the business.
Our inefficient transport system needs a complete overhaul to tackle the climate emergency: no airport expansion, frequent flyer levies, greener public transport, and redesigning our streets for cycling and walking. Greener transport could create around 44,000 long-term jobs in the North West alone.
A Green New Deal in the UK offers a clear vision of a brighter, sustainable future. It’s a radical approach to restructuring our economy which, if implemented comprehensively, will help to transition rapidly out of the climate and ecological crisis and, at the same time, improve quality of life for everyone in the areas that really matter.
Gina Dowding is the Green MEP for North West England. You can read about the Green New Deal for the North West here.
7 February 2020 | Emily MacPherson-Smith