Richard Murphy and Colin Hines stress the importance of the government spending money on creating jobs as well as on infrastructure to deal with the impact of coronavirus on people and the planet
Your editorial (19 August) correctly points to the fact that the “money no problem” approach to tackling the short-term upheavals caused by coronavirus must now shift to tackling the climate crisis. If not, it risks the further alienation of young climate protesters, the exceptional Greta Thunberg and the countless environmental campaigners active over the past few decades. The catalyst for this is the need for new jobs in every community to counter the political, economic and personal trauma that will come in the wake of the coming tsunami of lost livelihoods across the country.
An answer to the inevitable question of how to pay for such a transformation was provide by Larry Elliott’s observation (18 August) that the government’s money-printing programme of quantitative easing (QE) inflates the assets of the already rich, rather than helping rebuild the real economy. Given rising unemployment, it’s likely that QE is going to be required for some time to come. In that case, the government’s e-money printing presses must be used to help fund the employment of the millions of increased staff needed across all social sectors, from more care and health workers to teachers and police, while also funding investment in new climate-friendly infrastructure projects, such as making the UK’s 30m buildings carbon neutral and adapting existing infrastructure to deal with future heatwaves and flooding. This would be a serious start to healing the damage currently being inflicted on people as well as the planet.
Richard Murphy Visiting professor, University of Sheffield
Colin Hines Convener, UK Green New Deal Group