Labour's shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas to jointly table Green New Deal private members bill in Parliament today
All eyes may be on the on-going Brexit debates, but today "radical" new legislation will be tabled that could have a far greater impact on the long term shape of the UK economy throughout the 21st century.
Labour's shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas are set to jointly table a Private Members Bill that would require the UK government to deliver a 'Green New Deal' and drastically accelerate efforts to decarbonise the economy.
Dubbed the Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill, it calls on the government to deliver a "radical" 10-year strategy for public investment to help slash greenhouse gases, introduce stricter environmental regulations, protect and restore natural habitats, and "eradicate inequality".
The private members' bill is broadly modelled on the Green New Deal, which is being championed by Democrat representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and has already played a central role in the primary race for next year's presidential election.
Private Members' Bills are given less parliamentary time than government legislation and typically only a small minority end up actually becoming law.
However, the plan has already secured backing from a number of key figures from both Labour and the Green Party, and the hope is that the proposal can gain further cross-party support for more radical climate action.
It is also designed to build momentum behind more ambitious climate policy measures ahead of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) publishing its much-anticipated recommendations on whether the UK should adopt a new long term net zero emission target.
Lucas, a former Green Party leader, said a Green New Deal was urgently needed. "It is now clear that we need a bold and radical plan to fight the climate crisis at the scale that scientists say is necessary," she said. "To do that we need to transform our economy and society at the speed necessary to prevent climate breakdown. We need to do what is required of us - not simply what is seen as politically possible. Young people understand the scale of the economic transformation we need to secure our futures. It's time the government woke up to the climate emergency and the UK's grotesque levels of inequality and enacted a Green New Deal."
Lucas first co-founded the UK's Green New Deal Group alongside a number of politicians and economists 10 years ago, but today marks the first time such a proposal has come before Parliament.
The concept has picked up huge momentum and widespread support in the US in recent months thanks in large part to Ocasio-Cortez's decision to champion the plan.
The proposed legislative package takes its inspiration from President Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s, which used significant public investment in jobs and infrastructure to try and pull the US out of the Great Depression.
Critics have accused the plan of being too vague and seeking to tackle wider challenges, such as access to healthcare, rather than focusing on decarbonisation. But supporters insist more precise policy details are being worked on and have credited the plan with revitalising climate politics on both sides of the Atlantic.
The text of today's UK Bill mirrors the broadbrush approach of the US Green New Deal proposals. The draft Bill is only a paragraph long, but calls on the government to "establish a ten-year economic and public investment strategy that prioritises decarbonisation, community and employee-led transition from high-carbon to low and zero-carbon industry, and the eradication of inequality".
It would also require the government to report on its adherence to the strategy, establish higher environmental standards for air, water and green spaces and the "make provision to protect and restore natural habitats".
It comes in the wake of recent global school strikes which saw more than 50,000 students join protests across the UK to call for action to tackle climate breakdown, and follows the launch of a new grassroots campaign for a Green New Deal among Labour members aimed at encouraging the Party leadership to adopt a similar policy.
Labour's Shadow Treasury Minister for Sustainable Economics, Clive Lewis, said the Bill set a timetable to make "government, workers and communities the drivers of change, not the inheritors of chaos".
"The physics is clear. We must cut carbon emissions by 50 per cent, within a decade, to avoid climate breakdown," he said. "As climate strikers warn us, the planet will not wait."
The government has consistently said it will consider the recommendations of the CCC before deciding whether to introduce more ambitious UK carbon targets and supporting policies.
However, in response to the recent school strikes ministers highlighted how the UK has a stronger decarbonisation record than any other G7 country while acknowledging that more ambitious action was urgently needed.
Lucas and Lewis' bill is unlikely to pass in its current form, but the pressure on the government to adopt a net zero emission target and deliver a Green New Deal style strategy to ensure such a target is met just cranked up another gear.
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