A Green Economy was one the Liberal Democrats’ major manifesto pledges. Its aim was not only to make our economy ‘environmentally, financially and socially sustainable’ through increased investment in renewable energy, managing water and waste, providing job opportunities, and enabling homes and buildings to save on energy bills, but was also intended to make a fundamental difference to providing for future energy needs through financing research and developments in renewable energy resources and green technology.
The need for green infrastructure in a sustainable economy is necessary for tackling our dependency on oil and non-renewable fuels and escalating effects of climate change as well as providing a recovery from the financial crisis. There are many areas of life that can be improved just from redirecting financial resources.
If developments in the green technology sector were properly funded, as the Liberal Democrats wanted, we would see increased job opportunities, more independence in terms of energy resources, fairer/cheaper energy bills a less volatile financial market as well as fewer international confrontations over energy sources. On top of which, the environmental benefits, such as decreasing the speed at which biodiversity is lost and thus improving future food, water and energy security would be numerous.
Through the Coalition Agreement the Liberal Democrats secured the acknowledgement ‘that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and support the creation of new green jobs and technologies’.
This is after banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest, who have a long history of investment in fossil fuels and companies involved in human rights abuses, have been enabled to continue their practices since the Labour government’s double-bail out of these banks with public money. Indeed they claim to be some of the biggest investors in renewable energy but this doesn’t relate to much and is fairly negligible (not to mention hypocritical) when they continue to fund exploitation of non-renewable sources on the scale that they do.
The previous government would not look into the details of RBS’s debts and debtors to avoid them being recognised as national debts. It seems that the public should have at least been made aware of where their taxes were being involuntarily invested. Hopefully the new government will allow more transparency in the investments of nationalised companies that are being funded by the taxpayer as well as directing funding away from non-renewable fuels.
Under the plans for promoting a low-carbon and eco-friendly economy set out in the Emergency Budget, the government has attempted to ‘address other barriers to investment in a low-carbon economy’ with the proposal to introduce a Green Investment Bank. Indeed there are already banks, such as the Co-op that exist that have ethically and environmentally sound investments, but a national bank would develop a greater profile on a much bigger stage while playing a significant role in funding the plans such as the Green Deal as well as encouraging a national attitude towards sourcing and providing energy from renewable sources.
If our economy continues to rest on unstable, unsupportable investments in non-renewable energy and funding human rights abuses, how can it ever be stable or healthy? It seems to make economic and environmental sense to pursue this Green Economy whole-heartedly.
(image: Adrian Sanders)