29 Nov 2008

Green plan for recession launched in Stroud

Thursday night saw the Stroud Subscription Rooms filled with nearly 200 people - a damp Thursday night to hear a panel of speakers talking about recession - I have to confess I never thought we'd get 60 people - it shows how the issue is really touching people - the evening was spent looking at how to 'Come out of the Recession Healthier, Wealthier and a Lot More Green'.

My photos: Colin Hines, Simon Pickering, Molly Scott Cato, Martin Whiteside and chair Carole Garfield - other photos of event and Transition Stroud stall - apols for quality - was feeling tired and prefering to talk to others rather than click!

The event was the Gloucestershire launch of the 'New Green Deal' on Thursday 27th November - it included lead speaker Colin Hines, co director of Finance for the Future and a former head of Greenpeace Economics Unit, who was the originator of the Green New Deal concept. He also co-authored the report with a panel including Green party Leader and MEP Dr Caroline Lucas, Richard Murphy, Co-Director of Finance for the Future and Director, SolarCentury boss Jeremy Leggett, Guardian Economic Editor Larry Elliot, and former Friends of the Earth chief Tony Juniper.

Carole Garfield of Stroud Chamber of Commerce chaired the evening and opened the event by saying that the Green New Deal was a response to the global economy facing a ‘triple crunch’: a combination of a credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices.

Colin Hines introduced the Green New Deal that calls for the increase in public expenditure to be spent funding hundreds of thousands of green collar jobs in a 'carbon army'. This 'army' will be trained to make every building in the UK energy efficient and increase the use of renewables. He said: "Investment in this 'Green New Deal' will create jobs all over the country, whereas tax cuts will have fewer benefits as people are likely to increase immediate spending largely on imported goods."

The other speakers were Dr Simon Pickering from Ecotricity; Molly Scott Cato, Economist and Euro-Parliamentary Candidate and Councillor Martin Whiteside, International Development Worker and Parliamentary Candidate. After each spoke there was an hour of lively questions and comments taken from the floor.

Martin Whiteside made the links between the national plans for green investment and local businesses. He said: "The Green New Deal is an exciting opportunity for us to invest in the businesses that will create a sustainable green economy. The Government has recognized the need to invest to prevent massive increases in unemployment, but is going down the wrong route. Instead of tax cuts we need to see investment is being spent strategically to bring about a green industrial revolution."

Molly Scott Cato said: "It's time to put to rest once and for all the false option of choosing between economic success and environmental sustainability. We must engineer the green economy of the future to compensate for the collapse of a discredited economic model dependent on credit binges, gravity defying house prices and increasing consumption. In short it's time for the Green New Deal."

Simon Pickering from Ecotricity discussed the important role that electricity generation and supply companies must play in the low-carbon economy. To applause he announced that papers for compulsory purchase will be served on Tricorn House owners : Ecotricity hopes that an exciting zero-carbon building with energy from local wind power generation will be built on the site.

What is the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal report proposes public investment of £30 billion that will save energy and have the added advantages of helping to address climate change and increase UK energy security. In the short term it will address the threats to the real economy from an economic downturn that threatens to rival the crash of 1929.

It proposes:

* A £30bn stimulus package, creating thousands of green-collar jobs in environmental works that will dramatically reduce the carbon emissions of UK buildings
* The creation of new national investment products, such as local government bonds, to fund this work and provide a safe haven for pensions and savings
* Keeping interest rates low to encourage investment in the green economy
* Shifting from VAT to pollution taxes, cutting the standard rate of VAT to 15%, and reducing it to 5% for some items, and abolishing road tax whilst increasing pollution taxes on fuel
* Closing offshore tax havens to stabilise the financial sector, discourage tax avoidance and to help provide funds for the Green New Deal

You can download a copy of the report at: www.glosgreenparty.org.uk/

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