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Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

I am trying to make this a regular Friday thing…

The good news:

  • The billions we currently spend on unemployment benefits could be used more effectively help deprived communities weather the recession. So says nef‘s latest report Benefits that work.
  • Breaking up the banks is no longer a marginal idea: it seems that everyone from Andy Haldane at the Bank of England to Alistair Darling now thinks that breaking up the mega-banks would be sensible. nef called for this earlier in the year in our report I.O.U.K.
  • Age of Stupid director Franny Armstrong was ‘saved’ from a mugging by Boris Johnson . The Mayor of London just so happened to be cycling past as Franny was being intimidated by a group of teenagers wielding an iron bar. Saving a green activist while riding a bike has got to be the act of eco-friendly Good Samaritanism par excellence. Let’s hope Franny managed to get Boris to sign London up to 10:10.

The bad news:

  • Climate change could lead to a new era of global insecurity, so say the top military figures who make up the Military Advisory Council at the Institute for Environmental Security in the Netherlands (via New Scientist).
  • Ed Miliband has admitted that the chances of a global deal at COP15 in Copenhagen is increasingly unlikely. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy said that a full treaty could be up to a year away.
  • Lord Griffiths perpetuates the myth that inequality is somehow ‘good’ for us. The Conservative peer – who is also the vice-chair of investment bank Goldman Sachs – tried to justify the bonus culture of the City by telling an audience that “inequality is a way of achieving greater opportunity and prosperity for all“. Richard Wilkinson, of the Equality Trust, provided a rebuttal, while nef‘s own research in The Great Transition shows that inequality could cost the UK alone up to £4.5 trillion over the next forty years, because of the social problems it causes.

Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

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.

raising the standard of green investmentUntil 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.

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nef employees blog in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the new economics foundation.