Sunday, 20 May 2012

The One Million Climate Jobs "Caravan of Hope"

The Campaign against Climate Change has launched an initiative calling for massive public investment to create a million jobs in tackling the causes of global warming in Britain. With its Caravan of Hope travelling the country to promote the campaign, which has been developed in conjunction with a number of major trade unions and the Green Party, the CCC is arguing for Keynesian economics to be used to put unemployed workers back in jobs. There are echoes of the Green New Deal here, but with some significant differences.

Unusually, but most welcome, is its proposal that these should be public sector jobs, deployed on a wide range of tasks, many skilled in their nature, switching to a near zero-carbon energy sector within twenty years as well as saving emissions meantime by a national programme to insulate every  building in the country and also to massively improve and reduce the cost of public transport. Other initiatives would seek to cut emissions in industrial and agricultural processes, and, as each stage completed, the workers involved would be retrained and moved into new roles in the next phase. Their jobs and pay would be guaranteed, providing a currently unknown level of security with immense social benefits as well as massively driving forward the environmental agenda.

It is a bold plan, with a net cost of £18 billions per year. This is dwarfed by the £200 billion given to the banks in 2008 and by expenditure by the current government on areas of spending like the military and nuclear power.  if the Trident nuclear missile system is replaced, its current estimated cost will be around £80 billions, so spending a quarter of that on jobs in sustainable recovery is not only possible - it is urgently necessary to help avoid climate catastrophe. With global warming continuing to gather pace as the Siberian and Canadian tundra begin to melt and release extremely dangerous methane gases (which are 23 times more warming than CO2), we have a very short time indeed to prevent climate change racing far ahead of any chance of human action stabilising the warming trend.

The capitalist market system, with its in inherent need to commodify more and more activities and resources, will not deliver the change we need in time, if at all. For example, as the Arctic melts to a point that ice free summers at the North Pole may be only a few years away, rather than ring the bell to sound a global emergency, the oil companies and their investors are extolling the profitable prospects of being able to drill for oil and gas in hitherto inaccessible water.

And so Government led action, such as the million jobs campaign, will be necessary to drive down our carbon gluttony. Beyond the current campaign though are a number of other major issues to tackle, such as breaking the power of multinational corporations, re-localising economies and redistributing wealth to make a low/no growth economics possible.

The Caravan's progress and schedule can be found on the Campaign against Climate Change website here. You can download the report setting out the initiative on the same web page.

A video has been launched to promote the campaign.

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