Monday, 2 March 2009

Brown New Deal

It's rare, these days, for a bank to be condemning the government rather than the other way around, but that's what a new report by HSBC does. It reveals that despite promises to "lead the world in building the low carbon society with a low carbon economy", Gordon Brown's actual investment in anything resembling a 'Green New Deal' is tiny compared to other rich countries. China, whose emissions are regularly referred to as an excuse for not tackling our own, is devoting 110 times as much money to environmental investment. Brown loves to jump on any bandwagon that rolls by, but just like with Make Poverty History, it seems he's not actually serious about the Green New Deal.

The HSBC report points out that by investing in green energy, the government could create more jobs than with conventional financial stimuli, as well as cutting emissions and solving energy supply issues. All well and good. But when the principles of the Green New Deal were originally brought together last year, they included proposals such as a windfall tax on energy super-profits. Although campaigning was done around this issue, it doesn't seem to have made its way so strongly into mix when the Green New Deal is talked about in the mainstream. There is a danger that HSBC, Brown or anyone could cherry-pick the corporate-friendly policies, calling what they've done a Green New Deal, but losing the vital essence of the proposal; to fundamentally challenge the neoliberal model that got us in the mess in the first place.

I think its important to remember, though, that its possible to both critique and push further any Green New Deal -style proposals. We should use the momentum created by the fact that mainstream alternatives to free market dogma are starting to be implemented to demand proposals which contain more social justice and a more sustainable basis on which to run our economy. That means more co-operatives and credit unions, more local food production and sustainable transport systems, not just investment in hi-tech green energy projects which are most suitable for multinational corporations, thereby confirming their place in our future.

No comments: