Since the idea of a Green New Deal was taken up by the newly elected, social media savvy US congress woman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez known as AOC, it has generated a huge political debate in the US. On one side are most of the US Democratic presidential hopefuls and the US Sunrise movement, a youth-led climate campaign. On the other are Republicans, and to some extent unions as they worry about their members’ jobs in a green economy.
This debate has also been taken up in the UK. The Green New Deal was originally launched as an idea here by the New Economics Foundation following the 2008 Crash. When all Governments jointly agreed to boost demand in the April 2009 G20 summit to ‘save the world’, many proposed that fiscal interventions should focus on green expenditure. AOC’s advisers actually took the idea from one of the original NEF authors, Ann Pettifor, when they visited her last year.
So what exactly is a Green New Deal? Can the idea political support in the UK, and what would that mean for the ‘quiet consensus’ that has been the main feature of UK climate politics for a decade? Even if it does, is it the answer? Can we spend our way out of climate catastrophe? And would the Green New Deal engage and motivate UK citizens to support climate action?
Rebecca Willis, research fellow at Lancaster University and the University of Exeter, and Nick Mabey, economist and CEO of E3G – third generation environmentalism – will discuss followed by a wine reception allowing further conversation and networking.
Rebecca Willis is a research fellow for the IGov project at the University of Exeter,investigating energy governance. In 2009 Rebecca founded Green Alliance’s Climate Leadership Programme, an initiative to support Members of the UK Parliament. With Lancaster University, she is conducting research into political responses to climate change. She advises the Lake District National Park, where she helped to establish the UK’s first local carbon budget; and has a particular interest in local and distributed energy solutions.
Rebecca is a Fellow of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) and a Trustee of the New Economics Foundation. From 2011-15 she was a Council Member of the Natural Environment Research Council, and from 2004-11 was Vice-Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, advising the Prime Minister and First Ministers of the devolved administrations. She is an Associate of the think tank Green Allianceand from 2001-4 was Green Alliance’s Director. Previously, Rebecca spent two years as a policy adviser at the European Parliament in Brussels, specialising in international environmental issues.
Nick Mabey is Chief Executive and a founder director of E3G (Third Generation Environmentalism) a non-profit European organisation dedicated to accelerating the transition to sustainable development. In addition to his management role, Nick works on European climate and energy policy, climate diplomacy and foreign policy, and the security implications of climate change and resource scarcity.
Nick was previously a senior advisor in the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit leading work on energy, climate change, countries at risk of instability, organised crime and fisheries. Nick also worked in the UK Foreign Office’s Environment Policy Department where he helped establish the UK’s world leading environmental diplomacy network.
Before he joined the UK government, Nick was Head of Economics and Development at WWF-UK. He came to WWF from academic research at London Business School on the economics of climate change; published as the book “Argument in the Greenhouse”. This followed a period in the UK electricity industry working for PowerGen and GEC-Alsthom. Nick trained as a mechanical engineer at Bristol University and holds a Masters degree in Technology and Policy from MIT.
Nick has held a range of external appointments and is currently serving on the London Sustainable Development Commission and as a trustee of the Ashden Awards. Nick has previously served on the advisory board of Infrastructure UK, the independent UK Green Investment Bank Commission and as the vice-chair of the European Alliance to Save Energy.