UK: Green Party launches 'climate election' campaign

The Greens want to take advantage of the low cost of borrowing in a last-ditch attempt to save the planet.

    The Green Party's Sian Berry says the scale of the climate emergency we face justifies the need to spend big on sustainable environmental solutions [File photo: Neil Hall/Reuters]
    The Green Party's Sian Berry says the scale of the climate emergency we face justifies the need to spend big on sustainable environmental solutions [File photo: Neil Hall/Reuters]

    The Green Party is to launch its general election campaign with a pledge to borrow more than 900 billion British pounds ($1.2bn) over the next decade in a bid to rid the United Kingdom of fossil fuels.

    Joint leader Sian Berry will outline the plan to turn the UK carbon neutral by 2030 as she calls on voters to make December 12 a "climate election".

    The party plans to increase corporation tax by five percent in an attempt to service the huge debt, which will be used to build 100,000 energy-efficient homes a year and upgrade national transport infrastructure.

    The launch is set to take place on Wednesday morning in Bristol West, a key Green Party target seat, where the local council on Tuesday night approved plans to ban diesel cars from the city centre by 2021.

    Ms Berry will tell party activists: "Some things are even bigger than Brexit. This must be the climate election."

    The Greens are promising to spend 100 pounds billion ($128.7bn) a year over the next decade, telling voters: "This could be our last chance to elect a Parliament to keep us below dangerous warming.

    "The climate doesn't care about promises. The environment doesn't care about pledges. What we need is action. And the Green Party has the single most ambitious and comprehensive plan to go carbon neutral by 2030 while delivering social justice across Britain."

    Some 91.2 billion pounds ($117.4bn) of the proposed yearly spending will come from borrowing, with the party arguing that the low cost of debt and impending climate crisis justifies the commitment.

    The rest of the money will come from its proposed tax changes, with which it also hopes to service the cost of the borrowing.

    The UK's national debt currently sits at 1,790.9 billion pounds ($2,306bn), according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

    Speculation over a so-called "Remain alliance" between the Greens, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru has been growing over recent weeks.

    A spokesman for the Greens confirmed that the parties were "having discussions" but refused to say whether an electoral pact had been agreed.

    In 2017, the party said 22 candidates were standing aside to boost the electoral hopes of opposing progressive candidates.

    Under Theresa May, the government committed to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    But the Green Party hopes to better that goal with its so-called "Green New Deal", which it hopes will also encourage increased investment from the private sector.

    The spending commitments come after a year of increasing pressure from environmentalists, including the direct action group Extinction Rebellion.

    Last month, Ms Berry's colleague and party co-leader Jonathan Bartley was arrested during an Extinction Rebellion protest on Whitehall.

    A Green Party spokesman said at the time: "Climate chaos will end ecosystems and collapse our society. We have just 10 years to reduce our CO2 emissions to safer levels and climate protesters are drawing attention to that."

    SOURCE: News agencies