Green Shoots for a Corona Recovery?

Green Shoots for a Corona Recovery?

by Jeremy Brown

It is very difficult to foresee how the dust will settle after the worst of this awful pandemic has passed. We don’t know yet whether it will be more like the Spanish flu of 1918, the US New Deal of 1933, Atlee’s welfare state of 1945, the austerity of 2010, or something completely unprecedented. But we can do our best to at least imagine how things might turn out for the better...

Take the fictional story of Andy. Originally Andy had a job making car engines for Jaguar Land Rover. All that changed in March 2020 in the fight against coronavirus, when the company started collaborating with the government to make emergency ventilators. But his job was soon at risk once the demand for ventilators began to drop, and the threat of economic depression meanwhile suppressed the appetite to buy new cars. A team of Labour councillors and local residents fortunately stepped in just at the right time, and invited him to join their community-owned business. But unlike the big corporates, their core mission was to take on the next big matter of life or death: the climate and ecological emergency. 

Make no mistake - Andy mourned the terrible human cost of the coronavirus -  around 20,000 deaths, and counting. Some of his close family had fallen victim. But at the same time he was still very mindful of the scandal of UK air pollution – a crisis contributing to 40,000 early deaths per year. Fatal conditions like heart disease, cancer, and asthma aggravated by the exhaust fumes of the vehicles that ruled the roads before the lockdown.  After the lockdown was lifted, Andy’s new role mainly involved a combination of installating energy-efficient boilers, building electric bikes, and fitting rooftop solar panels.

Solar Panel Installation

The enterprise received finance from bank loans that were later paid back by charging households the amount they would have otherwise wasted on inefficient heating and high electricity bills. As for the bikes, the price was subsidised by the government after a successful cross-party campaign to improve public health in cities. While Andy sometimes misses his colleagues back at Jaguar, he’s relieved to be safe from the post-furlough recession, and finds new purpose in life for playing his part in the eventual abolition of fossil fuels.

Andy’s story has echoes of the many American citizens that benefited from the New Deal pioneered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. On his election in 1933, Roosevelt focused his New Deal on a combination of emergency relief and public works programmes to help the unemployed. Roosevelt decisively rejected the ideology of austerity, and went on to become one of the Left’s most successful political leaders in history. In some ways, the UK Labour Party now finds itself in a similar position as the Democrats did in opposition during the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

91 years on, the time is therefore now ripe for Labour to confront the climate crisis with a Green New Deal that equally protects us from the financial storms of this terrible virus.

Images: The Guardian, Wikipedia

Do you like this post?

Showing 1 reaction

published this page in Articles 2020-05-04 22:59:46 +0100