We need to transform our institutions to deliver a Green New Deal
Common Wealth have published another report in their Green New Deal series, this time looking at political movements and institutions. Written by Miatta Fahnbulleh of the New Economics Foundation, it is titled Anchoring the Green New Deal: Building Transformational Institutions and ‘looks at how decentralised economic planning can address inequalities and reverse the failed policies of austerity’.
The report paints a picture of a broken economy that does not work for ‘the majority of people’ or the natural environment. Alongside growing wealth inequality, ‘the UK suffers from an inequality of place’, with austerity hitting ‘even harder those people and places already reeling from post-crisis pain’. Fahnbulleh goes on to say that ‘deep economic malaise is coinciding with a set of environmental crises that demand profound change’, which in turn has triggered a political crisis, ‘widespread disaffection and lack of trust in our political institutions’.
The report argues that ‘to turn away from danger and rewire economic systems so that they work for people and planet requires a Green New Deal’. It would seek to solve the economic and environmental crises by
‘driving investment into clean energy, green infrastructure, revitalised and greened industry and world-class public transport, creating decent jobs across the economy with a focus on the people and places that most need a ‘new deal’’.
Fahnbulleh states that achieving this vision would require ‘institutional backing at both national and local level’. Firstly, she recommends reorienting ‘key ministries and national institutions around the Green New Deal challenge’, while opening this process up to greater scrutiny by those ‘who have the most direct experience of the economic and environmental crises’. Building on this, she suggests a Green New Deal Commission drawn from ‘communities at the sharp end of environmental and industrial change as well as unions, businesses, technology experts and scientists’ to ensure the government meet their ecological and social goals.
Secondly, the report advocates a ‘radical devolution of power’, channeling resources and support ‘into those locations that are most in need of bold action to create decent work and transform environmentally-harmful industrial processes’. There cannot be ‘just one Green New Deal, but a federation of them’ to meet the diverse needs of the UK’s towns, cities and regions, which would require giving more control to ‘local people, trade unions, progressive employers and local leaders’.
The report concludes that we cannot deliver a Green New Deal without tackling the failures of our institutions, but equally if we do not solve the crises of the economy and the environment, we may be not be able to ‘reverse the fortune of failing institutions’. As Fahnbulleh writes, this
‘requires an ideological shift away from blind faith in private capital and markets and towards a more active, decentralised state.’
Read the full report here.
Read an introduction to the project, Road Map to a Green New Deal: From Extraction to Stewardship, written by Common Wealth director and founder Mathew Lawrence.