This paper is a result of the transnational project “A Green Transformation: Freedom and Security in Uncertain Times”, implemented in 2017 by the Green European Foundation with the support of Green House Think Tank (UK), Cogito (Sweden), Fondation de l’Ecologie Politique (France), Green Foundation Ireland (Ireland), Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Germany) and Strefa Zieleni (Poland).
The UK is at a turning point, whether we like it or not. This paper explores how this could be used as an opportunity to reflect on what kind of future we want for the UK.
Currently economic growth is directed to where the economy is already strongest. This is further skewing who benefits, with inequality growing across the UK. It is expanding London, building on Green Belt and commuter suburbs, expanding cities and other centres of growth. This capital-centred growth is ignoring climate and environmental challenges and making life and livelihoods for many more precarious and insecure. To redirect the economy of the UK we need a plan, that joins up strategies and investment for jobs and skills, industry and infrastructure, housing and environment to align to the environmental and social challenges of today.
We need to do it in such a way that transitions us to a green future that is climate secure, and ensures no-one is left behind. Attaining a better quality of life for all requires a better redistribution of jobs around the UK to rebalance the economy regionally and in terms of income. This needs a rapid transition to shift our economy, politics and ways of living so they are sustainable within our resource and climate limits. This then would give us freedom and security, and generate the most crucial of aspects needed to enhance our collective resilience: hope.
This paper will first explore how the trends towards a gig economy and automation provide an opportunity for this to be realised as a new approach, before setting out why, what and how such a green industrial strategy might be realised.