XR Sheffield activist Zoe Roberts talks about how you can get politically active and help tackle the climate crisis during the lockdown.
"To resolve the climate crisis and create a fairer Sheffield (and U.K) we need an action plan which transitions all areas of the economy, from housing, to energy, to transport, into low carbon alternatives, through creating well-paid, public jobs in retrofitting homes, in renewable energy, in public transport and in other key services.
During the pandemic, we have all come to appreciate that the most valuable jobs in society are those in social care, health care, and in providing other public goods and services, like food and transport. Unfortunately, the people who are providing the most valuable services for society generally receive lower than average wages and are often on insecure or zero-hour contracts, which is blatantly unfair. In recent years, food bank use has been soaring as many people are unable to feed their families and the poorest fifth of households have had falling average incomes, whilst the share of wealth of the richest 10% continues to rise.
To address the twin crises of rising inequality and rising carbon emissions, we should campaign for the government to create millions of well-paid, secure, public jobs in building the new low-carbon economy and for increasing the minimum wage to a living wage and banning zero hour contracts.
As we come out of lockdown, the government will be announcing numerous economic stimulus measures to support businesses. As citizens, we can collectively demand that the government does not continue to bail out fossil fuel based businesses, which would enable them to continue to destroy the planetary life-support system upon which we depend upon.
After the last financial crisis public money was used to bail out the banks, but to address the coming economic crisis public money should be used to ensure that we continue to have a habitable planet, through investing in low-carbon infastructure. This would create millions of jobs in the process.
Many fossil fuel based industries are in crisis due to the effects of lockdown, this is our opportunity to push for the government allow these businesses to fail while investing in creating public jobs to decarbonise housing, agriculture, transport and energy systems. Support and free retraining should be provided for workers in fossil fuel based industries, for them to transition into low carbon industries, as part of a Just Transition which has been proposed by the trade union movement to ensure that workers are able to shape this transition.
Extinction Rebellion has been campaigning to ensure that as we come out of this public health crisis, we address the climate crisis, through a ‘No Going Back’ to business as usual campaign, demanding that the government does not bail out environmentally destructive industries.
We could all organise around demanding that economic recovery is directed by a Green New Deal, using public investment to decarbonise all sectors of the economy and create low-carbon, fairly paid jobs.
The Greens and Labour are already committed to a Green New Deal programme to decarbonise the economy, create thousands of low-carbon, public jobs and ensure that everyone can access well-insulated homes and affordable, clean energy and public transport.
Additionally, a non-party political group, Green New Deal U.K, is building a broad based movement around campaigning for a Green New Deal, and schoolchildren (before the pandemic made public gatherings unsafe) have been striking for a Green New Deal.
As we begin the social and economic recovery from Coronavirus, we can collectively demand that all workers are paid fairly and measures are implemented to ensure that we are safe at work, and that government investment is directed towards creating fairly paid jobs in low-carbon industry and public services.
Once Parliament resumes, a Decarbonisation and Industrial Strategy Bill will be reintroduced by Caroline Lucas and Clive Lewis, which sets out concrete measures to implement a Green New Deal.
We can all write to our MPs asking them to support this Bill, spread support for this Bill on social media and through talking to friends and family, and engage in forms of campaigning, such as taking part in civil disobedience with Extinction Rebellion (once it is safe to do so) and getting involved with groups campaigning for a Green New Deal (mentioned above)."
By Zoe Roberts - XR Sheffield Activist
See our first Beyond Coronavirus article here.
See our second article here.