Tackling the climate emergency forms the centrepiece of the Green party’s appeal to voters, with an eye-catching proposal to spend £100bn a year – more than any other party – on a transformation of the economy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Policies on housing, transport, industry and the economy all flow from this central premise: that failing to see off the climate crisis would spell disaster, while tackling the challenge correctly can revitalise both the economy and the social fabric of the country.
The proposed Green New Deal would require close to £1tn in government borrowing over the next decade, during which time the UK would be transformed to a net zero carbon economy. Renewable energy would be expanded to produce most of the country’s power, with wind alone producing 70% of electricity by 2030. New support for solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro and other renewable sources would provide most of the rest, while subsidies to fossil fuels would be abolished. Large-scale batteries, an overhaul of the grid and new interconnectors to mainland European neighbours would help counter any intermittency of supply.
A carbon tax on all fossil fuel imports and domestic extraction would be progressively raised to phase out fossil fuels, while home insulation – every home to be adequately insulated by 2030 – and energy efficiency improvements in industry would reduce demand. The party’s estimates the Green New Deal would create millions of jobs, assisted by £2bn a year investment in training and skills.
Transport is now the UK’s biggest source of emissions, and the Green party plans rely heavily on improving public transport. HS2 would be scrapped, and the money spent instead on electrifying all intercity railways, building new routes and creating a government-owned rolling stock company for electric trains. No new petrol or diesel cars could be sold after 2030, and a frequent flyer levy would apply to people taking more than one return flight a year. Airport expansion would cease.
Agriculture is another major source of emissions. The Greens would plant 700m new trees, more than 10 times the number of other parties, restore hedgerows and designate some areas for rewilding to restore wildlife and natural habitats. Farmers would be encouraged to diversify into forestry and new urban farms created. Revenue raised by a new 5% tax on meat and dairy products would be returned to farmers to help them move to low-carbon methods.
Increase NHS funding by £6bn a year, and a further £1bn a year on nursing education. Provide an additional £4.5bn a year to fund councils to provide free social care to people over 65 who need support in their own homes. Roll back the privatisation of the NHS and give the health secretary the duty to ensure the NHS is properly staffed. Mental health services to be on a par with physical health, and anyone needing mental health therapy to receive it within 28 days.
End the “hostile environment”. Replace the Home Office with a Ministry of Sanctuary, responsible for a new immigration system with no minimum income rules for visas, full workplace rights for migrants, the right to work for asylum seekers and recourse to public support for migrants and asylum seekers who need it. Recompense those affected by the Windrush scandal and a national Windrush Day bank holiday to recognise the contribution migration has made to UK society.
Abolish undergraduate tuition fees and write off the student debts of recent graduates who paid £9,000 tuition. Schools to receive an additional £4bn a year, with a long-term aim of bringing class sizes down to 20 pupils. Formal education to start at six years old, with early years education available and free childcare of 35 hours a week. Remove charitable status from private schools and charge VAT at full rates on fees.
Economy and tax
Corporation tax to be raised from 19% to 24%. Flatten tax for individuals, by merging income tax, national insurance, capital gains, inheritance and dividend tax into a single consolidated income tax. Everyone to receive a universal basic income of £89 a week for adults, £178 for pensioners. Council tax and business rates to be replaced with a land value tax. Women to occupy 40% of board positions in major companies.
Crime and Justice
Reduce short prison sentences and create specialist women’s centres. Restore youth services to combat knife crime, and make policing more community-based. Decriminalise drug use in favour of a regulated system of licensed sales at fixed prices, with government responsible for sourcing sustainable supplies of opium and coca from developing countries. Ban advertising of alcohol and other drugs, and place a minimum unit price on alcohol.
Foreign policy and defence
Cancel the Trident nuclear programme. Replace the Ministry of Defence with a Ministry for Security and Peace, with the promotion of peace as a key foreign policy objective, along with helping other countries combat climate chaos and dealing with the impacts of climate-related disasters. Spending on overseas aid to be increased from 0.7% of GDP to 1%. The government’s activities in selling and encouraging the sale of arms to be closed down, along with all subsidies and support for the UK arms industry’s export of weapons.
People living in privately rented accommodation to be given new rights through an end to no-fault evictions and controls placed on rent. End right-to-buy sales of council homes, and scrap the help-to-buy scheme. Councils to be granted funding to build 100,000 new homes a year, all constructed to high environmental standards. Exemptions to the land-value tax for pensioners or people on low-incomes, so they are not forced to move.
A second referendum, in which the Greens would campaign to stay in the EU and push for reforms to make its institutions more transparent, as well as replacing the UK’s own parliamentary voting system with proportional representation, votes for 16-year-olds and an elected second chamber.
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