The Green Party launched its manifesto in Bristol today, pledging to invest £100 billion a year for the UK to be carbon neutral by 2030. This target contrasts with the Conservative ambition for carbon neutrality by 2050, with Labour aiming for “before 2050” and the Liberal Democrats for 2045.
Called ‘If Not Now, When?’, the manifesto includes a series of radical proposals which target both climate change and social inequality.
A carbon tax would be introduced covering oil, gas, petrol, diesel, and aviation fuels. Petrol and diesel cars would no longer be on the roads in 2030. 700 million trees would be planted by 2030, and there would be an extension of the existing plastic bag tax to cover plastic bottles and all single-use plastics.
One key pledge is to invest £10.2 billion to build 100,000 new zero-carbon homes, which would be available for social rent. A further £24.6 billion would be spent on giving existing homes energy and insulation upgrades. The measures would aim to reduce the 14% of UK greenhouse gas emissions which housing currently represents. Currently only 1% of new homes achieve the top A/B energy efficiency ratings, but the Green Party is proposing an even higher standard known as ‘passive houses’. At present, there are only 1000 such homes in the UK.
The manifesto also pledges significant sums towards boosting public services and reducing inequality. Each year a further £4 billion would be spent on schools, £6 billion on the NHS, and £4.5 billion on social care. University tuition fees would be scrapped. Existing student debt would also be written off, the cost of which is estimated to be around £33 billion.
Another eye-catching policy is the introduction of a ‘Green UBI’, by which every citizen would receive £89 a week, with extra money available for families and people who cannot work. All pensioners would receive £178 per week, nearly £10 more than the current state pension.
The plans represent a total increase in state spending of £100 billion per year. Although the party proposes to gain an extra £9 billion in tax, the vast majority (£91 billion) of the proposed spending increases would be funded by borrowing.
Finally, the party wants to scrap the first-past-the-post voting system, which it would replace with a “fair and proportional” alternative. This represents a point of agreement between the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Brexit Party, and Plaid Cymru.