Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1112/31712

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 December 2020

'Building back greener' - yet more Tory greenwash

Demonstrating for action against climate change, photo Paul Mattsson

Demonstrating for action against climate change, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Chris Baugh, Lancashire Socialist Party

The Tories announced on 17 November their ten-point plan to tackle climate change, and reach a net-zero emissions target by 2050. But Boris Johnson's pledge to "build back greener" - post-Covid and post-Brexit - is just so much 'greenwash'.

As if to underline that, Johnson's Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in his spending review, reaffirmed his commitment to an extra 27 billion on expanding the road network. That means more cars, vans and lorries pumping out more CO2 and toxic pollutants into the air.

The ten-point plan announcement is in advance of the government hosting the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year, which is likely to see big protests over the lack of progress among world governments, including the UK's, in halting climate change.

In response to the detailed policy document, released a full day after Johnson's public announcement and the media fanfare, the Financial Times, citing climate experts, reported the plan is a 'far cry' from what is needed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

There was little mention in the media of the savings only closing 55% of the gap needed to meet the government's own 'legally binding' targets. In reality, these measures have no chance of delivering zero-carbon emissions by 2050.

New money?

The Tories have claimed there will be 12 billion of investment and the creation of over 200,000 new jobs, but this is another deception. At most, there is 3 billion of new money - a drop in the ocean of Covid-related funding and, moreover, the funding required for the transition away from polluting fossil fuels.

According to the Committee on Climate Change quango, achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 will cost 30 billion each year - a sizeable sum. But the cost of not doing so will be greater and, in total, it is roughly equivalent to the 900 billion in quantitative easing that governments have shelled out over the last decade to keep the capitalist economy afloat.

The 3 billion includes 525 million to build a new generation of smaller nuclear reactors at the very moment Germany is phasing out nuclear energy because of the huge public health risks, the risk of accidents, and storing the waste which remains radioactive for thousands of years.

Nuclear power will need to form part of the economic transition but decommissioned on a 'just' basis under democratic workers' and community control.

The Tories also plan an increase in hydrogen-fuelled energy, but its effect in reducing emissions is, at best, unclear as we do not know whether fossil fuels or renewables will be used in hydrogen production.

The plan includes the building of a number of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plants in areas of the north of England. These could potentially create much-needed jobs, and unions will need to exercise their power to ensure any benefits will be felt by working-class communities. CCS has a place in the transition, but its benefits are limited as it assumes a continued reliance on the burning of fossil fuels, and there are serious questions about its effectiveness on a long term industrial scale.

The ten-point plan includes funding for the installation of 600,000 heat pumps, a clean electric alternative to gas boilers, in homes and public buildings by 2028. Many of the policies, including the 'aim' of quadrupling offshore wind capacity by 2040 and its commitment to tree planting, have been announced previously, and there is no new money for these.

Moreover, the government has bungled the expansion of offshore wind farms by failing to build the infrastructure needed to connect up these farms to the national grid.

The proposal picked up in the mainstream media is the ban on the sale of new petrol and hybrid cars by 2030, although hybrid cars emit two and a half times more carbon emissions in real life than in laboratory tests and are not banned until 2035. And a mass roll-out of electric cars is in doubt due to an acute shortage of roadside charging points. Currently there are only 5% of the chargers needed by the 2030 deadline.

Profit system

This half-baked Tory plan is what to expect from a government that acts in the interests of its big business friends. The measures will not meet the reduction in emissions needed to halt the slide towards the dangerous warming of the earth's temperature.

It relies entirely on the funding of private capital projects, and the market seeing profits and making the necessary switch in production, As the Socialist and the Socialist Party's magazine Socialism Today have consistently pointed out, it is the capitalist economic system that places profits above the interests of the working class, who produce the wealth in the UK and globally. It is this system that has brought us to a 'climate emergency'; a system that has shown itself unwilling and incapable of the decisive action needed to reduce carbon emissions.

Trade unions and working-class communities will need to play a critical role in a just transition to a zero-carbon economy. This struggle will need union power and building a political force in workplaces, colleges and communities that is prepared to fight against workers having to pay the price for climate change; that sees this as part of the struggle for socialist change to avert climactic disaster.

Johnson's nuclear folly

Alongside Johnson's 'building back greener' announcement, his government has given the green light to France's state-owned EDF and China's GNPG to build a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Norfolk.

The PM claims that Sizewell C will boost jobs and provide carbon dioxide emission-free electricity, essential to meeting the UK's climate change targets.

However, EDF's nuclear reactor design doesn't work! Another EDF nuclear plant using the same type of pressurised water reactor in Flamanville, France, has been plagued with serious faults, is years behind its start-up deadline, and way over budget. The French energy minister this year described the project as "a mess".

Currently, EDF is building the Hinkley C nuclear power plant in Somerset using the same PWR design. Commissioned in 2008 at an estimated cost of 4 billion, Hinkley C was meant to be generating power for the national electricity grid this year, but is unlikely to start doing so until 2025 or 2027 at the earliest. Its current cost is over 22.5 billion.

Sizewell C, estimated at costing 20 billion, has already exceeded its original budget, making the cost of electricity, should it ever come on stream, more than double that produced by renewables such as wind and solar power.

With a few hundred permanent jobs required to run the plant, if and when it's completed, Sizewell C will be one of the most expensive job creation programmes ever.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 2 December 2020:


What we think

Spending Review. Unions must resist return to austerity


Spending Review

What will the spending review mean for me?

Napo kickstarts fight against pay freeze


News

Better for billionaires. Worse for workers

Arcadia and Debenhams closures: Nationalise to save jobs and pensions

Scotland: Campaign wins end to period poverty

NHS: Underfunded, understaffed, underpaid

News in brief


Devolution

Where is devolution heading?


Workplace News

Don't let the festive season be one of misery for retail workers

Equity union conference calls for radical change - now lead a fight!

Solidarity with Brighton UCU strike - we won't pay for Covid crisis

East London teachers strike in support of victimised union rep

Heathrow workers strike against 'fire and rehire' plans

Hackney: Stop plan to halve school support staff!

Pay freeze protest Homerton Hospital

Unison general secretary ballot closes


Environment

'Building back greener' - yet more Tory greenwash


International News

Conflict in Ethiopia: ethnic-linguistic divisions are the historical product of capitalist inequality


Marxism

Review: Friedrich Engels - Condition of the working class in England


Campaigns

Socialism 2020 feedback

Wales TUSC plans to mount an electoral challenge

Rent strikers' victory in Manchester student halls

Labour meeting lets MP get away with 'Spycops' abstention

Selling the Socialist

Fighting fund target smashed!


Reader's opinion

TV: The Social Dilemma

Fast fashion, big profits, low pay

Diego Maradona - Working-class rebel, football genius

Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 December 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Carbon:

triangleJohnson emits huge quantities of hot air!

triangleThem & Us

triangleSocialist policies needed to halt climate disaster

triangleLabour needs socialist policies to solve "climate emergency"

Government:

triangleCome to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

triangleDVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

triangleFees frozen at 9,250 a year, fight for free education

triangleNews in Brief

Climate change:

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Climate change - Only a socialist solution?

triangleTrump's failure over western US wildfires

triangleXR blockade: Don't let the Tories criminalise protest

Jobs:

triangleUnison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

trianglePoverty wages: When workers can't afford to self-isolate

Energy:

triangleNottingham City Council: The (mis)adventures of Robin Hood Energy

Nuclear power:

triangleOpinion: capitalism's Fukushima showed same recklessness as Stalinism's Chernobyl

Renewables:

triangleClimate change protest in London on 12.4.19, photo Mary Finch

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

27/1/21

Hospital

Low-paid hospital workers strike

27/1/21

GMB

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

27/1/21

Cardiff

Solidarity meeting with Mohamud Hassan

27/1/21

TUSC

Come to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

27/1/21

London

Sage care workers strike again: Billionaires refuse to pay up

27/1/21

Unison

Unison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

27/1/21

Merseyside

Merseyside: DHL workers at Burton's Biscuits strike against half-baked pay deal and bullying bosses

27/1/21

Fighting Fund

Help fund a challenge to austerity at the ballot box - donate today!

27/1/21

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

TUSC is up and running for May elections

27/1/21

Labour

Why I'm leaving Labour and campaigning for TUSC

27/1/21

Surrey

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently

27/1/21

DVLA

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

27/1/21

Waltham Forest

Save Our Square from New Labour gentrification

27/1/21

Martin Powell-Davies

Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"

26/1/21

Scunthorpe

Steel site scaffolders strike for the 'rate of the job'

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999