Thursday, February 13, 2020

Starting Green New Deal (Green Industrial Revolution) at the local level

The Green New Deal is about creating jobs to address the ecological emergencies. I have written to my MP about how we could do this meaningfully in our patch. Here is what I have sent him. Feel free to copy amend and send it to your MP too.


John Penrose MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear John

Action on human-caused climate change

I have been deferring the writing of this letter for months, but have decided to write after reading the Prime Minister’s speech at the COP26 launch on February 4th. Here are some excerpts:

“…a defining year of action for our country, and indeed for our planet, on tackling climate change but also on protecting the natural world… the global addiction to hydrocarbons has got totally out of control…the evidence is now overwhelming and it is taking its toll”
It would be easy here to raise previous statements and present policy decisions contradicting this position, but the urgency of the situation demands that we should all choose to work together rather than playing politics.

He mentioned Walter Bersey, the inventor of the electric car, “and the tragedy for humanity
was that he allowed himself to be daunted in what he was trying to do because he was in the end defeated by the sceptics and those who thought that his efforts were technologically impossible…”

This is what moves me to write. What I am going to propose here is not at all impossible, either technologically, or even financially, but will be seen as politically difficult to the point of impossible, even though it is a very simple proposal indeed. It is that we should allow, encourage and assist people to move into work that will help solve the climate and biodiversity problems that the PM refers to.

We are very much in a “phoney war” situation regarding climate change. A Climate Emergency has been declared in many quarters, not least in North Somerset, but there is a sense of unreality and a distinct lack of action. Nearly a year has gone by since the speakers at the UNGA declared that we have only 11 years to take meaningful action to hold climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but there is no real manifestation of urgent action.

The actions needed are many and various, and it is important that they do not cause damage to ordinary people. We must remember that the riots in France began with a fuel price increase. The opposite way to address the problem is to enable people to pay less on their fuel bills by insulating the housing stock in North Somerset. This would be a massive task. There are two approved companies in North Somerset who do this work. Both would need to expand their workforce significantly to carry out the necessary work in good time.

This brings me to the core of the present proposal. At present there are many young people in your constituency who are without work. Unemployment has a profoundly debilitating effect on the health of individuals and communities. It is irrational to inflict unemployment on people when there is so much good work, work to heal the environment and society, crying out to be done.


Please read the attached briefing sheet on Green Wage Subsidy, which would enable local firms to employ local people in reducing the domestic fuel bills of local people. It is extremely simple administratively, yet politically I recognise will be very difficult indeed.

All I am asking at present is that we sit down together and discuss this proposal.

Thank you,

Richard Lawson


North Somerset Council declared a Climate Emergency on February 19th 2019, and a number of civil societies came together forming Zero Carbon North Somerset to help the Council in its efforts.
At the first meeting I took on the task of stimulating the provision of insulation in North Somerset's housing stock.
 What follows is an extremely brief introduction to an ambitious proposal.

This scheme will stimulate provision of work in energy conservation, renewable energy and energy storage technologies (and later in the whole green sector of the economy) by putting an end to the withdrawal of benefits that occurs on taking up employment.
It works like this:
1.      North Somerset Council, supported by local community, unemployed people, unions, civil society, small businesses, and both MPs will apply to the Department for Work and Pensions for permission to pilot this scheme in their locality.
2.      The Local Authority will designate officer(s) to administer the scheme, primarily to assess and accredit local employers in the fields of energy conservation, renewable energy and energy storage who wish to join.
3.      Approved employers can go to local Job Centres to take on extra workers.
4.      These new workers are allowed to bring their benefits into work with them for an indefinite period.
5.      The employer will bring the new employee’s remuneration up to the going rate for the job.
6.      The employer is not allowed to replace their existing workforce with GWS workers.
7.      The process is entirely voluntary on both sides. Any claimant who may turn down an offer is not sanctioned.

1.      It is 100% voluntary. It is not, repeat not, Workfare.
2.      It is simple. The rest of the benefits system is unaffected.
3.      It addresses the Climate Emergency through reduction in energy loss from buildings.
4.      It leads to reduced fuel bills for occupants of houses that have been insulated, causing reduced illness and mortality, and stimulation of the local economy.
5.      It leads to more employment and so leads to reduced illness and mortality.
6.      It stimulates the local economy.
7.      It leads to an overall increase to GDP in the region of £10 billion per year.
8.      It opens the way to its application in other sectors of the green economy – water, agriculture, housing, education, health and social care.
9.      It leads to the gradual introduction of Basic Income.

There is a slight increase in amount paid out in Job Seekers Allowance and other benefits as the scheme progresses over the years. JSA is only 5% of the total welfare budget 2009-10.
GWS is set out in more detail here :

Development in North Somerset
We are approaching all stakeholders, throwing the net as wide as possible. We are approaching businesses, we will spread the idea among local XR, Transition Town, FoE and all other environmental groups. We will try to get the support of local Unions. We will take it to local Green, Labour, LibDem and Conservative parties. We will take it to North Somerset Council as a formal motion, and we will lobby our MPs to present the proposal as a pilot project to the DWP.
Obviously, this latter is the most difficult hurdle to overcome, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

We will aim to get an airing in local media and social media. Radio Bristol has covered the GWS idea in the past. There is a possibility of filming the insulation of one house by volunteers and running it on YouTube.

Many thanks for giving your attention to this communication
Dr Richard Lawson


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