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 gain 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?
Ann Pettifor, author, activist and economist, Rebecca Willis, research fellow at Lancaster University and the University of Exeter, and Nick Mabey, economist and CEO of E3G – third generation environmentalism – discussed with a packed audience.