Transforming our economy while remedying our environmental crisis – Part 2

In a previous article, I started to highlight policy areas that could advance our fight against the climate emergency and looked at legislation and taxation. This article continues the discussion and looks at additional policy measures to drive change in the way we treat the world we live on.

3. Education – all schools should have climate crises as a part of their social learning – this can be written into the personal, social education time which schools use to address and educate on issues. For adults, continued government promotion on single-use plastics, diets and other life choices is essential, and each individual must take responsibility for their actions. The crisis is unfathomably large but broken down into a single person among 8 billion, and a single footprint to wipe clean, if we all clean up after ourselves, it is possible.

4. Directional funding – finance is key. The fact remains that in a capitalist society, to make changes cost money. This fight is the greatest seen by humankind, and it needs money. Tax increases could fund it, but that often hits the poor and taxation is a quagmire to get right at the best of times, and we are not in the best of times with our government debt post COVID at exceptionally high levels. At a time of incredibly low-interest rates, why not raise additional debt, but a very long term one. A Climate Bond: a war chest to fund the government department ring-fenced to achieve our net-zero targets and take the UK to net negative. The UK led the way through industrialisation, and it is time for us to do the same in de-carbonisation. The Climate Bond will act as a World War One war bond. ‘If you cannot fight, you can help your country by investing all you can in 5 per cent Exchequer Bonds…unlike the soldier, the investor runs no risk’. This was a promotion in 1917, but to issue 50 and 100-year bonds to fund climate change initiatives and transform our economy immediately with the proceeds can work, interest rates do not need to be exceptional and private green products exist, cash is sitting uninvested, and so it could be an exceptional time to pursue this strategy. A government-backed bond can raise capital at a lower rate, and offer investors greater security, so there is away, and the burden of repaying this debt falls across multiple generations.

These are just a few ways that as Liberal Democrats, we can lobby the government. These policies can make Britain a global leader in this area, it will lead to job creation, and we can meet and beat our Paris commitments, acting as a beacon to others. We don’t have the numbers in Parliament, our story and position have not been strong enough to lure voters to us, and only offering a ‘me too’ answer with similar policies to the other parties does our party, our country and our planet a monumental disservice. Lib Dems have led the way in the past on their own, ironically around 100 years ago, and it is time for us to do so again. Aggressive policies, being different and a stubborn refusal to fail will give us a roadmap to succeed.

* Steve Castree is a member of the Liberal Democrats Overseas Executive Committee.

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