We’ve had some very encouraging endorsements of the Green New Deal – from the UN, from the Environment Agency and from the IEA – but aside from some lofty promises from Barack Obama, there has been little in the way of national programmes along GND lines.
Until now, that is. A couple of days ago the government of South Korea announced that it would invest 50 trillion Won – £25.2 billion – over the next four years on environmental projects which will create nearly a million jobs. According to the Associated Press, the money will be directed to “energy conservation, recycling, carbon reduction, flood prevention, development around the country’s four main rivers and maintaining forest resources”.
Our government should take note. Gordon Brown will meet with business and union leaders at a summit on Monday to discuss the jobs crisis. He’ll no doubt remind them of his promise to create 100,000 jobs by investing in public services, infrastructure and green technology. Mr Brown has, however, given no indication of when these jobs will be available. Compare this South Korea’s plan. Despite having a lower GDP than the UK, and a smaller population, their government is aiming at 140,000 new green jobs in 2009 alone. Surely we can match this?
London City Hall is also getting in on the green jobs action. After announcing that he was in favour of some Green New Deal policies at the end of last year, Boris Johnson is launching a scheme to “retrain Londoners left unemployed by the economic downturn as energy efficiency advisers in a drive to make the capital greener”, reports the Guardian. It’d be fantastic news if he actually pulls it off, but as the Guardian’s leader observed on Tuesday, “Green new jobs are fast becoming the political equivalent of a new year’s diet – a commitment nearly everyone yearns to make but finds damnably difficult to put into practice.”
Finally, Australian think-tank, the Centre for Policy Development, has a good round-up of the some of the best ideas for tackling the financial crisis with green solutions. A Green New Deal is one of the publications mentioned.