Why the Green Party is proposing £100bn a year for a decade to fight the climate emergency.

The climate crisis has given us a window of opportunity to act – and we have to take it.

Yesterday, the Green Party set out our ambition for the boldest and most comprehensive climate action plan in the world: committing £100bn a year for a decade to a Green New Deal that will slash emissions while raising the quality of life in Britain.

If we are going to stand any chance of being carbon neutral by 2030. This level of investment is needed immediately.

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That much was made clear yesterday when 11,000 climate scientists took the unprecedented step of coming together to declare a climate emergency, warning of the “untold suffering” which awaits us if we fail to act boldly and quickly.

They are just the latest in a long string of climate emergency declarations, which started here in the UK with Green Party Councillor and now our Bristol West candidate for MP, Carla Denyer, declaring a climate emergency motion in Bristol. She was quickly followed by hundreds of local authorities, institutions and nations around the world.

Finding food on the front line of climate change

Show all 17

Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger
Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger
Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home
Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Finding food on the front line of climate change

Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

1/17 Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

At nine months’ pregnant with twins Balkisa Zakow, 25, feared she wouldn’t have the energy to give birth. A devastating drought made Balkisa’s harvests fail, made food prices soar, and then forced her family apart. Her husband migrated in search of work to earn money to provide for his young family, leaving her heavily pregnant and alone. “Sometimes if my husband had money he sent it to me so I could eat. Sometimes the money just doesn’t come,” she said. “I was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to give birth.” But seven-month-old twins Hassan and Ousseni are lucky, they were born the night after Red Cross support came to Tombokiery village, Niger. The Niger Red Cross provided the family with a small cash grant. “A Niger Red Cross volunteer told me to go first because she saw how exhausted I was. I used the money to buy food, then I went back home to sleep feeling relieved. Before sunrise I had given birth to my twins.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

2/17 Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

Last year’s drought made Aissa’s crop fail, leaving the family with nothing to eat. In the Sahel rainfall has become erratic and wet seasons that people rely on are shrinking. The Sahel has one of the driest climates in the world, people who live here have always been incredibly resilient, are now having to adapt and survive to ever harsher conditions. The region is almost one degree hotter than in 1970 and could rise by several degrees by the end of the century. Record hot spells, desertification, loss of crops and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are reducing people’s ability to feed themselves. Mothers are forced to eat just one meal a day so that their children can eat.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

3/17 Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

“When we had enough we ate three times per day, but during the shortage we only had one meal a day. The children were always following us, crying because of their hunger but we had nothing to feed them,” said Aissa. “But the Niger Red Cross brought us a cash grant. We bought millet and some rice, and with that we chased the hunger away.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

4/17 Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Six-month-old Aicka is struggling to gain weight. It’s been a month since her mother died and her grandmother Rabi has brought her to the Red Cross nutrition centre for help. The centre provides support to mothers and babies, weighing infants and measuring their upper arms for signs of malnutrition. The pair are two in a long queue waiting for help but a shortage of the nutrition supplement plumpy nut means that Aicka is still not at a healthy weight. Rabi said: “I had been feeding her cassava flour but I noticed didn’t help her much. When she has plumpy nut it helps a lot but sometimes there isn’t any. It has made my life very hard to bear. You can’t take care of a child properly if your own life is not good.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

5/17 Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava, which are given to families of malnourished children visiting the Red Cross nutrition centre.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

6/17 Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Aboul, four, is small for his age because severe malnutrition left him physically stunted. Across the Sahel 1.5 million children are acutely malnourished, one in five will die before their fifth birthday. “His body was very weak and he was so thin,” said his mother Ai Naliguido. “It was just Garri I was feeding him made with some corn-meal, or millet.” “I took him to the hospital every week and they gave him plumpy nut. I’m so relieved that he got the help he needed to get stronger. He has gotten a lot better.” She said. Niger Red Cross volunteers from the nutrition centre visit communities to show mothers how to get the most nourishment from millet flour and drought tolerant root vegetables like cassava, which helps to keep children healthy.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

7/17 Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

8/17 Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

First the drought made the harvests fail and then food prices inflated so high even the very basics became unaffordable for Hassi Seyni and her family. Her husband, like many others, was forced to leave to find work to earn enough money to feed the family. “We got really fearful because many men fled and left the women on their own,” said Hassi. “When he (her husband) has some money he sends it to us. This is how we lived.” “With support from the Red Cross we bought some bags of millet and corn. We bought some vegetables and some condiments. When your conscience is free from problems and you get to eat. Then you can think about the future.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

9/17 Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

10/17 Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

Millet is a drought resistant crop. Stems are stripped by hand and the grain pounded into flour which is slowly mixed with boiling water to make two, a thick white paste which is a staple across the region. Alternatively, water can be added to the flour to make porridge. Millet is a good source of carbohydrate but eaten alone lacks the vital nutrients needed as part of a balanced diet. When it’s available sauces are added to give flavour – such as the leaves of the Baobab tree. The mill is run by a women’s cooperative group and allows the whole village to buy grain at a cheaper price than in the market, it also helps to ensure the price is less volatile in the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Millet being hand stripped

11/17 Millet being hand stripped

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

12/17 Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

During the lean season a shortage in food forces the prices up to unaffordable amounts for many families. The market garden helps the local community to grow their own food and helps to stabilise prices during the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

13/17 34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

Ouma Azzika has seven children to feed. She received this goat from the Red Cross as part of a project supporting women to provide enough food to feed their families during the lean season when food is most scare. As well as providing milk, the goat can be sold at the market to earn money to buy food.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

14/17 An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

15/17 A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

16/17 A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

17/17 Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

1/17 Balkisa Zakow, 25, with her twins Hassan and Ousseni, Tombokiery village, Niger

At nine months’ pregnant with twins Balkisa Zakow, 25, feared she wouldn’t have the energy to give birth. A devastating drought made Balkisa’s harvests fail, made food prices soar, and then forced her family apart. Her husband migrated in search of work to earn money to provide for his young family, leaving her heavily pregnant and alone. “Sometimes if my husband had money he sent it to me so I could eat. Sometimes the money just doesn’t come,” she said. “I was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to give birth.” But seven-month-old twins Hassan and Ousseni are lucky, they were born the night after Red Cross support came to Tombokiery village, Niger. The Niger Red Cross provided the family with a small cash grant. “A Niger Red Cross volunteer told me to go first because she saw how exhausted I was. I used the money to buy food, then I went back home to sleep feeling relieved. Before sunrise I had given birth to my twins.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

2/17 Aissa Garba, 65, gazes out of the window of her home in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

Last year’s drought made Aissa’s crop fail, leaving the family with nothing to eat. In the Sahel rainfall has become erratic and wet seasons that people rely on are shrinking. The Sahel has one of the driest climates in the world, people who live here have always been incredibly resilient, are now having to adapt and survive to ever harsher conditions. The region is almost one degree hotter than in 1970 and could rise by several degrees by the end of the century. Record hot spells, desertification, loss of crops and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are reducing people’s ability to feed themselves. Mothers are forced to eat just one meal a day so that their children can eat.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

3/17 Herbs dry in the entrance to Aissa’s home

“When we had enough we ate three times per day, but during the shortage we only had one meal a day. The children were always following us, crying because of their hunger but we had nothing to feed them,” said Aissa. “But the Niger Red Cross brought us a cash grant. We bought millet and some rice, and with that we chased the hunger away.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

4/17 Rabi Chibkao, 56, and her granddaughter Aicka Danyabou, six months, at a Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Six-month-old Aicka is struggling to gain weight. It’s been a month since her mother died and her grandmother Rabi has brought her to the Red Cross nutrition centre for help. The centre provides support to mothers and babies, weighing infants and measuring their upper arms for signs of malnutrition. The pair are two in a long queue waiting for help but a shortage of the nutrition supplement plumpy nut means that Aicka is still not at a healthy weight. Rabi said: “I had been feeding her cassava flour but I noticed didn’t help her much. When she has plumpy nut it helps a lot but sometimes there isn’t any. It has made my life very hard to bear. You can’t take care of a child properly if your own life is not good.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

5/17 Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava

Ingredients for a Kuwo porridge with cassava, which are given to families of malnourished children visiting the Red Cross nutrition centre.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

6/17 Ai Naliguido, 40, and her son Aboul Aziz, four, in their village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Aboul, four, is small for his age because severe malnutrition left him physically stunted. Across the Sahel 1.5 million children are acutely malnourished, one in five will die before their fifth birthday. “His body was very weak and he was so thin,” said his mother Ai Naliguido. “It was just Garri I was feeding him made with some corn-meal, or millet.” “I took him to the hospital every week and they gave him plumpy nut. I’m so relieved that he got the help he needed to get stronger. He has gotten a lot better.” She said. Niger Red Cross volunteers from the nutrition centre visit communities to show mothers how to get the most nourishment from millet flour and drought tolerant root vegetables like cassava, which helps to keep children healthy.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

7/17 Ali Naliguido's empty bowl

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

8/17 Hassi Seyni, 30, sits with her son, Mohamad Moufitaur, 15 months old – in Tombokiery village, southern Niger

First the drought made the harvests fail and then food prices inflated so high even the very basics became unaffordable for Hassi Seyni and her family. Her husband, like many others, was forced to leave to find work to earn enough money to feed the family. “We got really fearful because many men fled and left the women on their own,” said Hassi. “When he (her husband) has some money he sends it to us. This is how we lived.” “With support from the Red Cross we bought some bags of millet and corn. We bought some vegetables and some condiments. When your conscience is free from problems and you get to eat. Then you can think about the future.”

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

9/17 Hassi Seyni eats couscous with baobab leaves

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

10/17 Drought resistant millet and the different ways it can be used at the mill run by a women’s cooperative in the village of Gurguzu, southeast Niger

Millet is a drought resistant crop. Stems are stripped by hand and the grain pounded into flour which is slowly mixed with boiling water to make two, a thick white paste which is a staple across the region. Alternatively, water can be added to the flour to make porridge. Millet is a good source of carbohydrate but eaten alone lacks the vital nutrients needed as part of a balanced diet. When it’s available sauces are added to give flavour – such as the leaves of the Baobab tree. The mill is run by a women’s cooperative group and allows the whole village to buy grain at a cheaper price than in the market, it also helps to ensure the price is less volatile in the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Millet being hand stripped

11/17 Millet being hand stripped

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

12/17 Drought tolerant cassava grown at the Red Cross market garden

During the lean season a shortage in food forces the prices up to unaffordable amounts for many families. The market garden helps the local community to grow their own food and helps to stabilise prices during the lean season.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

13/17 34-year-old Ouma Azzika with goat she was given from the Niger Red Cross

Ouma Azzika has seven children to feed. She received this goat from the Red Cross as part of a project supporting women to provide enough food to feed their families during the lean season when food is most scare. As well as providing milk, the goat can be sold at the market to earn money to buy food.

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

14/17 An empty bowl and spoon in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

15/17 A child is weighed and arm measured at the Red Cross nutrition centre in the village of Kiéché, southern Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

16/17 A traditional cooking pot used to cook tuwo in Tombokiery village, Niger

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

17/17 Niger Red Cross nutrition centre sign

Yuki Sugiura/British Red Cross

In the past year we have seen, week after week, inspiring scenes of school children striking on Fridays, culminating this September in the biggest ever global climate strike of four million people worldwide.

From all age groups, tens of thousands of concerned citizens have joined Extinction Rebellion on the streets for one of the most committed acts of civil disobedience in recent memory.

In the UK, more than half of people say climate change will affect how they will vote in this coming election. People know it’s time.

And now, they have something to vote for: the Green Party is planning the biggest programme of public investment in decades.

If £100 billion sounds like a lot of money, that’s because it is. That’s the point. We’ve been on the wrong track for decades, and now we’re catching up, we cannot pass up an opportunity to act just because it’ll cost us.

We’d pay for most of it by taking advantage of historically low rates for borrowing, while also asking corporations to pay more of their fair share in taxes.

It won’t be long before this investment will pay for itself, with repayments outstripped by the benefits of cutting energy waste, the taxes and national insurance paid by new workers, and the relief felt by the NHS once we clean up our filthy air.

Read more

Our Green New Deal will allow this investment to flourish, creating jobs, tax revenue, and prosperity. The New Economics Foundation has predicted that the offshore wind power market is set to increase sixfold by 2030; the Institute of Economic Affairs predicted in its 2019 report that solar is set to grow 50% between 2019 and 2024. We need to be capitalising on this incredible opportunity.

Think of how the government kickstarted a solar energy transformation by introducing feed-in tariffs for solar panels, which allowed people who bought solar panels to sell surplus energy back to the grid.

The government put the policy in place in 2010, and private investment came flooding in. And when the Tories short-sightedly pulled the plug on these tariffs this year, private investment duly collapsed.

If greening our economy still sounds expensive, ask yourself this: can we afford not to do this?

After the Second World War, we were in even more debt than we are now, and what did we do then? We set up the NHS. We built homes. We created the modern welfare state.

Were we uneasy then about the consequences for the UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio? Of course not. We saw the situation we were in, and we rose to the challenge. We can do it again. The money for this exists. There is nothing to gain from delaying.

While other parties were bailing out the banks in 2008, it was the Green Party who first proposed a Green New Deal. As ever, where Greens lead, others follow – and now the Green New Deal has been adopted by a range of voices on the left, from US presidential candidates to the British Labour Party.

We’re pleased to have had this influence, but it’s important to be honest about what this moment demands. Only the Green Party has a plan to decarbonise the economy completely across every single sector: industry, energy, housing, transport and agriculture.

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When 11,000 scientists come together to declare a climate emergency, it’s easy to fear the future. But Greens are unafraid. We are the future. A future that costs less, bolsters our economy, gets people out of poverty, and preserves our planet, to underpin absolutely everything else.

Taking action on the climate emergency isn’t just about averting disaster. It’s about creating a brand new Britain. We stand at the threshold of what could be the most prosperous period of British history.

Our Green New Deal will make this vision a reality.

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