The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called for a ‘revolution in political leadership’ on climate change by launching a new Environmental Justice Commission to set out a plan to deliver a rapid transition to a green economy.
The new IPPR commission is co-chaired by former Labour leader Ed Miliband MP, who has urged that the government be put on a ‘war footing’ to tackle what he called the ‘biggest threat to our economic and social wellbeing, and national security” - climate change. Mr Miliband called for ‘all the resources of government to deliver a Green New Deal for the UK, putting millions to work on tackling this threat.’
Miliband was joined in his comments by fellow chair Caroline Lucas MP, who warned that ‘maintaining the status quo is to gamble with the fate of humanity, adding that ‘the environmental crises can only be tackled through a transformation of our whole economy.’ Laura Sandys, the third co-chair and former Conservative MP, cautioned that ‘disruption from campaigners across the country over the last few weeks…is nothing in comparison to the social, economic and national disruption…that we will face if we don’t take transformative action to address the climate emergency now.”
The members of the new Environmental Justice Commission include leading figures from business, trade unions, civil society, academia, and climate activists including a young climate striker and member of extinction rebellion. It is proposing an ambitious and rigorous programme of reform capable of tackling the dual problems of climate change and wider economic and social injustice. It will seek to employ a ‘deliberative democracy’ approach to its work to get the views of people all around the country on the way forward for change.
The commission is particularly focusing on:
How in practice the UK can deliver its contribution to limiting global warming and cutting emissions to net zero in an economically and socially just way.
Ensuring a rapid and just transition for all through what is being called a Green New Deal – a green transformation of the entire economy, creating hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs and giving people real ownership of their futures in the process.
It will consider the economic and social injustices associated with the issue including the disproportionate impact by, for example, gender, class and ethnicity.
It will also examine the UK’s international responsibilities in tackling the accelerating climate crisis.
The launch comes as increasingly dire warnings surface from climate scientists regarding the costs of inaction, with the window for averting catastrophe closing ever faster. Despite meeting earlier targets, a recent official government report confirmed that the government is set to miss its future legally binding decarbonisation targets by a wider margin than expected.
The commission’s launch takes place in the same week as the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is due to publish new advice to the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations on the UK’s long-term climate change targets.
“We face a climate emergency” said Mr Miliband, Labour party MP and co-chair of the new commission. “Climate change is the biggest threat to our economic and social wellbeing, and to our national security. Politics needs to be on a war footing to deal with this enemy but too often it sends the message that business as usual will do. We need a revolution in political leadership; the problem we face is not just climate denial but climate appeasement. This commission brings together people from all walks of life, generations and political parties to bring about the solutions we need. It is time to put economic and social justice at the heart of the environmental cause. Our work will show how we should deploy all the resources of government to deliver a Green New Deal for the UK, putting our country to work on tackling this threat.”
Laura Sandys, former Conservative party MP and co-chair of the commission added that while some have felt disruption from campaigners across the country over the last few weeks, this is nothing in comparison to the social, economic and national disruption, upheaval and change to our way of life that we will face if we don’t take transformative action to address the climate emergency now.
“We should see “greening and cleaning” our economy as a route to turbocharge the modernisation of our economy away from old fashioned 19th century norms, accelerating change for the benefit of our globe, our society, our health and delivering a more resilient and progressive economy” Ms Sandy said.
“The climate movement has broken into the mainstream - and it's here to stay” said Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. “We must now focus on what is scientifically necessary, not what is seen as politically possible. Maintaining the status quo is to gamble with the fate of humanity and the prosperity of all who live in this country. The environmental crises can only be tackled through a transformation of our whole economy. A Green New Deal would mean a mobilisation of resources unprecedented in peace time to create a fairer, more equal country.”
Confirmed Members of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission include:
Paul Booth, Chair of Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership
Beth Farhat, Northern Regional General Secretary, Trade Union Congress
Angela Francis, Chief Advisor, Economics and Economic Development at WWF-UK.
Charlotte Hartley, Member of 2050 Climate Group and member of the Scottish Just Transition Commission
Fatima Ibrahim, campaigner and climate activist
Tom Kibasi, Director, Institute for Public Policy Research
Caroline Lucas, Green party MP for Brighton Pavilion (co-chair)
Ed Miliband, Labour party MP for Doncaster North (co-chair)
Paul Nowak, Deputy General Secretary, Trade Union Congress
Kate Raworth, Kate Raworth, Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute
Laura Sandys, former Conservative party MP and Chair of the BEIS/Ofgem Energy System Data Taskforce (co-chair)
Emily Shuckburgh, climate scientist with the British Antarctic Survey
David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability, WSP
Anna Taylor, student climate striker and activist
Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investors
Farhana Yamin, Associate Fellow at Chatham House and Extinction Rebellion Activist
Additional commissioners are to be added in the coming weeks.
IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.