Ideas for a Radical Green Manifesto
– by Green House Think Tank
Introduction: the big picture
Green politics starts from the realities we now find ourselves in. Human beings are changing the planet in fundamental ways – altering the atmosphere and climate, reducing biodiversity and trashing ecosystems. This is the Anthropocene, and human impacts are going beyond the boundaries that have maintained the planet in a relatively stable state.
At the centre of human pressures on the planet are two forms of growth – economic growth and population growth. Both are powerful and complex forces.
Economic growth has lifted billions of people out of poverty and poor health conditions, but at the same time it is having devastating effects on the natural world, of which we are a part and on which ultimately we all depend. There is an urgent need to find a new way of running economies which does not destroy its own foundations.
Population growth is driving worldwide changes in land use, converting wild land to agriculture and urbanisation. The greatest impacts come where population increase is combined with high levels of material consumption per person.
These are the central issues we need to address. Green politics is in practice about much more than politics – we need changes in economics, technology, attitudes, and cultures. That is why it is the most radical form of politics there is.
Proposals for Change
On Climate Change: an emergency package of reforms and action that must be enacted immediately. This should include ecological restoration and protection legislation, massive change in building and planning methodology and materials, carbon rationing measures (such as aviation and shipping fuel tax and flight rationing) to reduce scale of longer-distance and high impact travel and trade, along with emergency planning to accommodate increased climate-driven international migration and increase resilience for that which may already be unavoidable. Unilateral action where coordinated international action is not possible.
On a Steady State Economy: The right macro-economic policy goal should be adopted as a priority – that is, a steady state economy that features sustainable scale, fair distribution of wealth, and efficient allocation of resources.
On the Labour Market: Bogus self-employment and zero-hours contracts should be abolished, and part time workers should have contracts guaranteeing reasonable maximum and minimum hours to be worked.
On Social Security: A Citizen’s Income scheme should be introduced immediately, leaving the current means tested welfare system in place, and paying everyone an initial £20 per week.
On Media Reform: A system of public commissioning of independent investigative journalism funded from tax revenues, industry levies on corporate media companies and a reformed PSB licence fee.
On Constitutional Change: Reform the political system to make it more representative to bring in proportional representation for all elections, an elected house of Lords and devolution to English regions and local councils, as well as to Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland as well as more generally representing the interests of future generations.
On Land and Farming: Farm subsidies should be maintained but transferred to smaller farmers and used to reward environmentally friendly farming systems.
On Housing: Control the amount of money going into housing through controls on lending; provide attractive, alternative investment opportunities which support the
transition to a zero-carbon economy to reduce the amount of investment money
going into property; reform council tax so that it is a tax on housing wealth, and empower local authorities so they can address the housing issues in their local area.
On A Transition Plan for the UK: Introduce national and sub-regional planning that is links spatial planning to resource and energy constraints and to job creation across the UK. This must reduce our per capita energy use, resource use and pollution – quickly and equitably.
On Foreign Policy: The fundamental raison d’etre and ideology of the Green movement is the preservation of the planetary eco-systems that enable peaceful and productive human survival. This should therefore be the overarching principle behind green foreign policy. Over time, this means the replacement of ‘foreign’ by regional and global policy, through a reformed EU and UN.