Green Party claims that the sweeping green investment programme at the heart of its 2019 general election manifesto can help the country recover from the economic shock.
The Green Party has today urged the government to make a Green New Deal the central plank of its post-coronavirus recovery plans.
In a statement timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Greens called on the government to resist falling back on a 'business-as-usual' economic model and instead embrace a recovery strategy that simultaneously boosts the economy while tackling the climate crisis and reducing inequality.
"A green recovery is the only way to deal with the huge economic challenges while tackling the climate crisis, creating security and leaving behind the inequality that has damaged our society for so long," party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said.
Any emergency economic support, he said, should "power a move to a sustainable, secure economy and make sure, once we come out of this emergency period, we will have an economy and a society that is more able to withstand future shocks and tackle the climate crisis".
The Green New Deal - which takes its name from President Roosevelt's New Deal investment programme that helped revive the US economy after the Great Depression - proposes tackling the climate crisis and social inequality by mobilising unprecedented levels of public investment in green infrastructure and programmes. The policy was at the heart of the Greens' general election manifesto last year.
First floated in the UK by Green MP Caroline Lucas over a decade ago in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, the Green New Deal concept has seen a revival in recent years, partly due to its promotion in the US by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Greens' version of the Green New Deal would see £100bn invested annually in climate action over the next 10 years, largely funded by borrowing of £91.2bn a year, as well as hiking corporation tax to 24 per cent.
The Greens argue the plan can generate hundreds of thousands of low carbon jobs and transform the UK's housing stock while revolutionising transport and turbocharging the energy transition.
Today's entreaty to the government puts the Green Party among the ranks of an extensive and growing network of green groups, think tanks, business leaders and politicians lobbying governments across Europe to ensure that the fight against climate change is at the heart of post-crisis economic strategies.
The UK government has previously resisted calls for a Green New Deal programme on the scale proposed by the Greens, but recent reports have suggested Number 10 is keen to make the pursuit of the UK's net zero emission target one of the central planks of its economic recovery plans.
The Green Party's proposal also came as four more European countries joined a call to place climate action and pursuit of the EU's net zero emissions target at the heart of the bloc's recovery plans.
Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta added their signatures to a joint letter from environment and climate ministers from 13 EU countries that was published last week on the Climate Home News website.
The letter backs European Commission plans for a massive Green Deal investment programme in support of the bloc's net zero emissions by 2050 goal. "The focus is presently on fighting the pandemic and its immediate consequences," it states. "We should, however, begin to prepare ourselves to rebuild our economy and to introduce the necessary recovery plans to bring renewed, sustainable progress and prosperity back to Europe and its citizens. While doing so, we must not lose sight of the persisting climate and ecological crisis. Building momentum to fight this battle has to stay high on the political agenda."
The latest signatories mean over half of EU member states have now backed the calls for Brussels to use the "roadmap" provided by the Green Deal "to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate neutral economy".
"We should withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come," the letter adds.
Meanwhile, calls to deliver climate-focused recovery plans were given a further boost today, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres used a speech to mark Earth Day to call for all governments to ensure economic recovery packages move swiftly to accelerate the clean energy transition and enhance climate resilience.
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