Back to: Agenda
Previous: Chris Stark, Committee on Climate Change
Fernanda Balata: Thank you for inviting me here today. I'm honoured to be a part of the UK's first Climate Assembly. My name is Fernanda and I'm here representing the New Economics Foundation. For the past 30 years, we have worked across the country to understand what stands in the way of social, economic and environmental justice. You've already heard today about how our economy has an impact on everything. But the way the economy works is something that we, as a species, have power over. We have the power to change it. We make the policies, we can choose what we invest in, and how what kind of things we produce. We can choose to support vulnerable and more deprived communities. So not changing the economy when it's not working to deliver the things that we need, the things that we care about, is also a choice. We are overdue in the UK, an economic transformation.#
For the past six years, I have traveled most of the UK coast, working with coastal communities and speaking to hundreds of people. Way before the climate crisis became a political priority, coastal communities have been home to some of the most deprived areas in the country, lacking the investment they need. Now they will be the most affected by sea-level rise as a result of climate change. Areas that are already vulnerable, will struggle to deal with the greatest cost as the impacts of climate change hits homes, infrastructure and people's well being. I don't think it's fair, if net-zero, don't make the transition to reach net zero, don't take this context into account.#
So how then do we go about delivering the net-zero target? Markets alone don't deliver social, economic and environmental justice. Private companies and interests alone don't and won't do it either. So we need the state as the institution that represents us all, to proactively and positively lead the approach to deliver net zero. And it is the how, how it does that, that I want to talk to you about today. So the state must be at the heart of the transition. But this cannot be just a top-down exercise, as it's been done in the past. In a democracy, you can't force the death of change that is now required on people. It just won't work. So we need an enabling state giving the resources, the investment and the power of decision making, that workers, unions, communities, and regions, need to implement changes in a way that makes sense to them, to their places. Britain has a terrible track record of managing deep industrial change in a fairway. Just think of the coal mining communities in the eighties, devastated by the closure of the industry and the loss of jobs with nothing to replace the vacuum it left. These are places that have still not fully recovered. The transition to net-zero risks doing that again. While it will affect the whole country, it will affect some regions worse than others. And that's why we need a managed, state-led approach.#
A just and fair transition is the central challenge of climate policy. Everything now is climate policy, but it must be delivered fairly. It is the idea of caring about how we get from the economy that we have today, to one that is net-zero. How can we do that? While policies could carry on doing the things the same way that they have been, only caring about prices and lines on graphs, and whether in the big picture we are getting going in the right direction. Ignoring that people aren't lines on graphs and that fixing the climate isn't the only problem our economy faces. A state-led approach that delivers a just transition, designs net-zero climate policies to be fair, and be seen to be fair, that means paying particular attention to how they're paid for, who is the perceived beneficiary and who loses out. The transition will cost money, of course, but do not believe people who say we can't afford it. What they mean is we don't want to pay for it, and that's a very different thing. Just as the government made hundreds of billions of pounds available to bail out the banks and the financial sector, a decade ago, it can make the money available to invest in good job creation where it is needed and deliver a more stable climate for us all. And I'd be happy to answer your questions later about some of the ways that government could do that.#
But for now to conclude, we cannot deliver a genuine sense of fairness and social justice to achieve net-zero within the economic rules that we have now. But we can change them to deliver the things we want and make this transition, at times difficult and uncomfortable as it will be, but ultimately a positive change for us all. For the last 40 years or so, the state has been slowly retreating from a directive role in economic change. Free market policy has put global capital ahead of people, places and the natural world. The state has taken a huge back seat. It is choosing not to change things whilst workers and communities have very little ability to influence policy. It is okay to demand that government creates lots of green jobs in the places that most need them, using our taxes to do so. Indeed not only is it okay, but it's hard to think of a better thing for government to do. And we won't do it without it. Thank you.
Sarah: Fernanda, thank you. Just to anticipate some questions that we'll now get, would you mind just quickly explaining what you mean by the state?
Fernanda Balata: Yes. So, the state is an organised form of governance, for yeah, government, parliament. I mean, we have a, parliamentary democracy.
Sarah: Okay, so we're gonna pause now for you to write down questions. So please could you each write down up to two questions for Chris and for Fernanda? That's up to two each. If you have them, make sure you write down whether the -
Transcripts provided by Just Transcription. These transcripts have been automatically created and then reviewed by two editors. If you find an error in the transcription where it does not match the video, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.