It’s also vital to turn the surge in public support for climate action into a mandate at the ballot box. While the Gilet Jaunes aren’t a single-issue movement, one of their central concerns is the imposition of a carbon tax on people unable to pay, while wealth taxes are getting cut. There’s no way to net zero without some kind of disruption to how we eat, travel, live and work. Policies to get us there need to be fair and seen to be fair (for an example, see a paper on plastic taxes I recently wrote).
Social justice must be at the heart of every single plan to deliver on net zero, for two reasons. Firstly it’s a matter of fairness: climate change is caused by the rich and visited upon the poor. Secondly, if people think something is unfair – be that workers in high carbon industry facing job losses, or people who rely on their diesel car for work facing fuel bill hikes – they’ll understandably resist that change.
People need to feel that they can vote for policies that will tackle the climate crisis while making their lives better — or at the very least not making them worse. That’s why NEF’s proposal for a Frequent Flyer Levy – where those that fly disproportionately frequently would pay disproportionately more tax – is the kind of thing we need to see.
All of that leads back to a resurgent idea – the Green New Deal. You can read NEF’s recent pamphlet here, which sets out the tenets of a modern incarnation of the economy-wide social and environmental justice plan we jointly convened back in 2007. The only kind of response that gets us anywhere near ‘net zero’ is one driven proudly by governments, with fairness at its heart, where climate action is seamlessly meshed with a new post-Brexit economic settlement for the parts of the country that need it the most.
A FAIRER WAY TO FLY – 21 JUNE, 2015 |