Notes for a Green Revolution

The health emergency and the climate crisis require a global response: a Green Revolution for a fair energy transition.

by Stephanie Kelton

The health emergency and the climate crisis have more in common than we might think. Both, for example, require a global response. The endeavours of a single country are pointless unless they are aligned with those of other nations. Therefore, this is the time to act as a community and work together to ensure our collective future on the planet.

If we try to look beyond the Covid-19 emergency, we have the chance to avoid repeating past mistakes. We know all about the consequences of global warming. The pandemic has opened our eyes to the vulnerability of the world we live in, the limited resilience of the big cities, air pollution and rising inequality and poverty. While many worry that public debt will burden the next generations, the reality is that the greatest threat to future generations is inaction - or a too timid response - to the climate change emergency.

Many problems are linked and, seeing as we will have to rebuild the economy, as a global community it would be wise to consider a new development model that is more inclusive and more sustainable

A Green Revolution that leaves nobody behind is the answer that we were looking for. A huge programme of public investment in renewable energies and clean technologies can help us to create millions of new jobs, kick-start private investment, decarbonise the economy, and electrify transport, without forgetting to protect those who could end up paying the price of the energy transition. This can be done through conversion and retraining programmes. We want a just transition that is fair and inclusive for everyone

Investing in the climate does not take resources away from responding to the economic crisis: indeed, the opposite is true. Only a substantial quantity of green public expenditure can ensure a rapid recovery of the economy. Every economic system has to respect certain limits determined by the availability of its own productive resources: if a government tries to spend too much in an economy that’s already operating at full speed, inflation will accelerate. But these limits don’t concern only a government’s capacity to shoulder a larger deficit to invest in the future. When we talk of public expenditure we tend to think more about budget deficits rather than deficits that really matter, such as access to education and health services, clean air and biodiversity, a decent job and free time that we can spend with our families.

The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced our faith in public institutions: today, state intervention is considered part of the solution, not the problem. This is an important starting point for tackling the challenging period that lies ahead. Let’s take advantage of this scenario. We need governments that are willing to pursue a long-term approach, courageous politicians and far-sighted business leaders. A Green Revolution for a fair energy transition is an opportunity that we should seize immediately, without hesitation and all together.

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