London: UK politicians have put forward a “Green New Deal” in the British Parliament in the same week a progressive climate change plan of the same name was rejected by lawmakers in the United States.
The American legislation, backed by Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has gained significant publicity around the world.
But the concept of a specifically “Green” New Deal, inspired by American President Franklin Roosevelt’s sweeping economic package that helped end the Great Depression in the 1930s, originated in the U.K. just over a decade ago, according to one of the British bill’s authors.
British Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas told CBS News it was just a coincidence that her legislation was put forward the same week as the vote in the United States Senate.
Lucas was a founding member of Britain’s Green New Deal Group, which formed in 2007 and published its first “Green New Deal” report in 2008 as a response to the global economic crisis.
“We didn’t want the bridges and roads and so forth of the 1930s, but what we did want was… a massive investment in green infrastructure so that we could use this crisis also as an opportunity in terms of being able to get hundreds of thousands of people back into jobs,” she said.
The type of bill put forward by Lucas and her colleagues in Parliament, called a “Private Members Bill” is largely symbolic, and they infrequently become law. The full legislation, called the “Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill,” hasn’t even been drafted, apart from an extended title which reads: “A Bill to place duties on the Secretary of State to decarbonise the United Kingdom economy and to eradicate inequality; to establish a ten-year economic and public investment strategy that prioritises decarbonisation, community and employee-led transition from high-carbon to low and zero-carbon industry, and the eradication of inequality; to require the Government to report on its adherence to the strategy; to establish higher environmental standards for air, water and green spaces; to make provision to protect and restore natural habitats; and for connected purposes.”
Lucas said she was still looking to work with various groups — including children who have been skipping school to demand action on climate change — to come up with ideas for it.
“To be honest, our Green New Deal from 2008 wasn’t embedded in the communities in the way that AOC’s (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) is, and I think that now our real challenge and our real inspiration is to see how we can make that much more meaningful to communities up and down the country.”
Other groups across Europe are also campaigning for climate-conscious New Deal-style legislation. A pan-European organization called DiEM25 launched its own policy proposal, which it is pushing ahead of upcoming European Parliamentary elections in May.
That deal would see the creation of 5 billion euros (approximately $5.6 billion) worth of bonds to finance a green transition within the EU, Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece and co-founder of the group, wrote in the Guardian newspaper.
“I’d really love to underline just how much hope and energy and inspiration what’s happened in the U.S. has given our movement here,” Lucas told CBS News. “It has really, I think, excited people to see a banner under which they can bring together so many of their concerns.”