Guest Blog: Cathy Shutt: Vote for a New Green Deal

Cathy Shutt, Labour’s No 2 Candidate in South East England writes:

One of the main reasons I am putting myself forward as a Labour MEP candidate for the South East region is to ensure funding proposals for the European New Green Deal reach the top of the European Commission’s legislative agenda.

Thanks to the remarkable Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion there is growing awareness of the threats posed by our climate emergency.  This is particularly relevant for the South East Region. We are vulnerable to sea level rise, drought and ecological damage resulting from climate change as well as the region’s economic success. Our international transport links, high level of manufacturing and economic activity have put huge pressure on housing and natural resources. The physics is undeniable; if we want our children to prosper, we need to lead by example and reduce our carbon emissions fast.

Over the past three years I have been part of an informal network interested in economics, politics and the climate emergency. We live in different places and come from different backgrounds. One is a professor of biology in the day and climate science junkie at night. Another is an engineer and renewables expert based in Brussels who worked for the UK electricity grid before it was privatised.

Thanks to our conversations, I’ve learned a few things regarding the practicalities of a transition to a zero emissions economy and the structural change this will involve.  I’ve also gained insights into the political interests that have made it difficult to galvanise support thus far.

The Green New Deal and addressing climate change is a massive project and one of the reasons we need to remain in Europe.  We can’t undertake the transformation required alone. On the one hand itrequires huge change to our global finance systems to stop the current practice of banks investing in fossil fuels.  On the other, it means changes to energy systems and the ways we heat our homes, power our industry and the types of transport we use to get about.

Change on this scale will have both benefits and costs. Renovating 250 million private dwellings in Europe, for example, is going to create vast numbers of jobs and enhance well-being.  These renovations will be expensive and cost about 5 trillion euros.  Overall, it is estimated that the European New Green Deal will take approximately 500 billion euros a year for up to 30 years.Relying on private finance is risky, therefore much of this money needs to come in the form of cheappublic finance from the European Investment Bank.

MEPs across the European Parliament will need to be politically savvy and cooperate to overcome vested interests to get this investment agreed and make the New Green Deal that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs a reality.  Much of the knowledge about climate change and renewable energy solutions has been around for a while.  But corporate lobbying by those who gain from austerity politics and investment in fossil fuels has made politicians slow to act.

I’m just the woman for the job.  I’m used to networking and speaking truth to power. If elected I look forward to working with other European MEPs across the Parliament to advocate for money that is needed to implement ideas outlined in the New Green Deal. Moreover, the added value of a Labour MEP making this case is that it aligns so well with Labour’s plans for a green industrial revolution outlined in our European Election manifesto and Labour’s proposals for Bringing Energy Home. Part of my job would involve redirecting EU investment back to support Labour’s green industrial revolution that aims to address societal divisions created by the Tory and Lib Dem coalition’s austerity policies. When successful this will make the UK the first country outside Scandinavia tomeet our climate obligations and contribute to making Europe the first carbon free continent in the world.