CLES on climate emergency: ‘the time for action is now’
The Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) have published ‘CLES on… climate emergency’, the third piece in their new series of provocations. It argues that while movements such as Extinction Rebellion and the youth climate strikes have been great in raising awareness of the climate emergency, ‘the time for action is now, and local authorities who have declared an emergency must put this into practice’.
It begins by arguing that we have long regarded ‘the economy’ and ‘the environment’ as ‘separate spheres’ but that ‘their deep symbiosis is now impossible to ignore’. Economic growth has relied on the ‘extraction and destruction of our shared social and environmental resources’ which has produced ‘vast inequalities between those who benefit from this regime and those who do not’. While the UK government and various local governments have declared climate emergencies, a continuing focus on growth ‘combined with the deepening austerity of the last decade’ means that this growing awareness has not resulted in much ‘tangible, practical action’.
CLES echo a growing number of voices now advocating for a ‘local Green New Deal’. The provocation calls for ‘co-operation at the international, national and local levels’, arguing that we cannot rely solely on national government to deal with the emergency or expect that ‘macro-strategic policies dictated from Whitehall will be enough to ensure that the transition to a green economy is democratic and decentralised.’
It argues that the action taken so far has not matched ‘the scale of the challenge’ and has been far too focussed on the behaviour of individual citizens. CLES demand that local governments and combined authorities ‘take action to harness their communal resources to achieve systemic transformation’, through investing in green jobs, creating municipal energy companies and shifting to renewable sources of energy.
CLES argue that anchor institutions ‘should be strident in their efforts to be carbon neutral’, aiming for zero-carbon procurement, divesting in fossil fuels, and using their influence ‘to ensure that their suppliers commit to greening their respective practices’. Partnerships with the private sector can ensure it matches the public sector in these efforts. The provocation points out that the benefits of ‘a systemic decarbonising of the entire economy’ yields not just environmental benefits, but ‘provides a great potential to create millions of jobs and revitalise rural and ex-industrial local economies’.
Finally the provocation states that ‘our economy and democracy must be pluralised in order to deal with the challenges of the climate emergency’. It argues that community ownership structures should be developed to allow communities to ‘take direct control of common assets’. Finally, it advocates challenging ‘institutional politics’ through ‘radical new ways of doing democracy’, such as co-operatives, co-production and participatory decision-making.
Read the full report here.