How can we tackle both the climate crisis and rising inequality? Yes, that’s right – a Green New Deal which combines the power of our local movement and a Labour Government. We need a massive investment to move to a zero-carbon economy rapidly, creating millions of good, well paid “Green Collar” jobs. It’s a project that combines social justice with environmental justice and can transform our society as well as redefining our relationship with the planet. Such a project will only succeed if it involves communities too often ignored. Community-led, grass roots developments will therefore be key. So, to get us started here’s our thinking on tangible actions that will make a Green New Deal a reality for Croydon. Your ideas are really welcome too of course.
What local action can we take now?
The Green New Deal must reach into every area of local policy making, planning and action. Here are some first ideas under the key areas for action.
Removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
- Croydon council should declare a climate emergency, commit to go carbon neutral by 2030 and appoint a responsible cabinet level politician for climate justice and green jobs
- A local campaign to oppose Gatwick expansion with community and political leaders across our boroughs should be established
- Car free days, Ultra Low Emission Zones and in time Zero Emission Zones for Croydon town centre, collaborating with local campaign groups on priority air quality
Building new zero-emission renewable clean power sources and power grids
- Investment in renewable, decentralised, local energy solutions as our town centres are developed including community renewable energy projects and publicly owned energy companies
Upgrading of building structures to maximise energy efficiency
- Retrofitting homes to make them energy efficient including replacing radiators with heat pumps
- A need for new homes must extend to a need for green homes, energy efficient and powered by renewables, with access to green spaces and community gardens. Labour’s promise of fitting 4m homes with upgraded insulation and 1.75m homes with solar panels requires that Croydon and Sutton develop the capacity to enable in-house council services or locally owned companies to provide quality jobs in delivering our share.
Restructuring agriculture along ecological lines to stop pollution and global warming emissions, encourage biodiversity and start capturing carbon into the soil and forests
- Support local food producers through procurement e.g. hospital and school food
- A biodiversity campaign collaborating with local wildlife groups to diversify our green spaces and create green pollinator corridors. This would have the additional benefit of providing cycling and walking routes for both travel and leisure
- Green the concrete as part of the above and encourage green roof schemes
- Planting trees wherever we can: provide the support to community groups/schools to plant trees
Restructuring transport systems to provide zero emission vehicles and provide clean, affordable and accessible public transport
- Rail services brought into public ownership so a better service can be delivered supporting people to move away from their cars
- Investment in hydrogen powered trains (such as the one developed by the University of Warwick), as the majority of the rail network isn’t, and will never be, electrified, these are the future.
- Expand the tram to further support people reduce car use
- Better bus services to hospitals and demand responsive bus services to improve public transport use in the suburbs
- Create protected cycle lanes and highways collaborating with local cycling groups
Waste and circular economy
- High street and retail – lower business rates and meanwhile use support for sustainable and community focused retail businesses e.g. repair cafes, zero waste shops such as Hetu in Clapham
- Expand drinking fountains and campaign to end single use plastic products
- Alignment with community wealth building principles e.g. local procurement reducing food miles
There’s clearly huge amounts to do! As we get to work and make these changes to deliver sustainable housing and transport projects it will also be vital jobs created benefit local people. So for example Croydon’s engineering companies should be able to play their part by expanding their recruitment and training for local people with support from the local council.
As we look to solve the problems of the suburbs, particularly moving away from the car, improving orbital public transport and retrofitting homes there’s also the opportunity for university, council and industry investment to create a shared research centre for problem solving. An innovation lab for the Green New Deal challenges we face where we pilot technology and infrastructure development should be established. Unused retail space can also be turned into a co-working and flexible start up spaces – supporting a reduction in travel and carbon emissions. To ensure our area gains the investment and infrastructure it really needs we’ll also need to deliver:
- More powers for the Mayor and Greater London Assembly
- A Deputy Mayor for Outer London
- Quarterly People’s Assemblies with key decision makers in our area…to identify local priorities and needs and produce a local Green New Deal we can all own and hold to account
Jamie Audsley with Charlie Mercer and George Richards