Shropshire Green Party reacts to 10 Point Climate Plan

21st November 2020

If the Prime Minister thinks this is an adequate response to the climate and nature crises we face, he's not studied them hard enough.

Oswestry Mayor Councillor Duncan Kerr said:

"They say that when you're in a hole you should stop digging. When you're faced with a climate emergency, the first step should be to stop fuelling it.

"Bringing forward the date for the phase out of diesel and petrol vehicles is good news but when you set the whole package in the context of the urgency of the climate and nature emergencies, and the scale of the job emergencies we face, there is nothing like enough boldness and urgency in this package. It fails to rise to the gravity of this moment.

"This announcement gives just £4bn of new spending, bringing the total to £12bn, which is around the size of the subsidy the UK Government gives to fossil fuels each year and a fraction of the £27bn the Government has announced for new roads.

"Rather than No 10 leading a cohesive strategy, the Prime Minister seems to see no contradiction in promising to protect 30 per cent of land for nature while building new roads, such as the disastrous proposed North West Relief Road (NWRR), which will bulldoze vital wildlife habitats and lock in reliance on cars. Instead, the Government should be prioritising investment in high quality, affordable and reliable public transport.

"When you compare the UK's £12bn to the level of Green stimulus that countries like France and Germany have committed - France £27bn per annum, Germany £36bn per annum, we think it tells you that the UK Government doesn't have the level of ambition that is necessary for this moment.

"A genuinely green reset would repurpose economic policy so that it prioritises people's health and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability and provide funding equal to this strategic challenge."

Research from Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment has shown that investment in the green economy creates more jobs, delivers higher short-term returns on investment, and leads to higher long-term costs savings compared to a traditional fiscal stimulus.

Green Councillor Julian Dean said "We want to see a local green recovery in Shropshire that is fair and sustainable. Leadership on moving to net zero is often coming from local authorities so Government must share power with councils to tackle climate change. But instead they are taking power away, for example, with plans to change planning rules. Instead of funding unproven mini nuclear power stations the government could give councils the green light to invest in renewable energy in their area. It has been estimated that Shropshire could produce 20% of the energy needed by the West Midlands. There are already local firms and co-ops like Shropshire and Telford Community Energy who can be excellent partners for this.

"The Prime Minister has said he wants to 'make the City of London the global centre of green finance'. We know that small firms will be key to much of the work needed, such as retrofitting older homes, but City finance has never been good at supporting small businesses. Government should be encouraging local green banks like the new Mutual Banks being developed in the South West and Merseyside. Shropshire Council should work with other councils in the West Midlands to support a similar local green investment bank."

Hilary Wendy, Coordinator of South Shropshire Green Party said: "It is astonishing and disappointing that there were no announcements to tackle emissions from food growing, production, manufacturing, and our diets. The evidence is clear, we can't limit warming to 1.5 degrees or achieve net zero with addressing food.

"Food should be at the heart of a green recovery from Covid-19 and this really matters in a rural county like ours. Growing, manufacturing and buying sustainable food delivers more, better jobs. For instance, if we grew more food using agro-ecological techniques like organic, we could greatly increase biodiversity, produce more of our own fruit and veg, and increase rural employment.

"This kind of investment is greatly needed at the moment, as so many of our local farmers in Shropshire have suffered so badly since the Covid-19 outbreak, and are at further risk from Brexit."

Our climate and nature emergencies are being driven by a relentless focus on a form of economic growth that is damaging people's health and wellbeing, as well as the health of the environment, so in the view of the Shropshire Green Party, whilst there are individual aspects to welcome, as a whole the Prime Minister's announcement doesn't add up to the ambitious reset we think the UK needs.

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