It’s time for Green Capitalism

By Elizabeth Anderson and Patrick Sullivan

A new Prime Minister has arrived.  Brexit is coming.  And thanks to a growing wave of environmental focus, we could be heading for a Green Brexit.  

The last few months have seen an unprecedented rise in the level of activity.  Fuelled in part by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, in part by growingly radical activity from pressure groups such as Greenpeace, and in part by the growing youth view within the party that enviromental and animal welfare issues are important, the Environment Secretary and Vote Leave campaigner Michael Gove has been ensuring that legislation is brought forward to deal with major issues.  Recent YouGov research showed that 27% of the general population, and almost half of young people, chose the environment as one of the most pressing issues facing the country
Issues such as climate change though continue to dominate – as was proved on Boris Johnson’s drive to the Palace to take up his premiership.  Whilst in the past Boris was not traditionally noted as an enviromentalist, we are not the first to highlight that Carrie Symonds has had an impact on his thinking.  Highly committed to a range of green issues, she has helped to reshape the agenda at a time when these issues are so important to the general population.  With environmental law so deeply connected with the EU – despite the UK time and time again playing a leading role in this – it is bound to be imperative that environmental issues are addressed head on in the Brexit planning.

Which is why today Parliament Street has launched our research paper on Green Capitalism.  We believe that capitalism – instead of being the enemy of climate and green progress, as viewed by many – can actually help to deliver the answer.  Political will alone will not transform how individuals change their own behaviour.  And individuals changing their own behaviour is key.  Voting intentions across the world – from Canada to Australia – have demonstrated that when green policies hit people in the wallet, they cease to vote for those individuals driving enviromental change.  And that cannot go on.  Long termism has to have its routes in short termism – and that means ensuring that people aren’t punished in the drive towards sustainability.  We recognise that in reality, making environmental change is often seen as more expensive, or more time intensive, in a world where workers’ time is at a premium itself.

Over the course of the coming year Parliament Street will be continuing to focus on how green capitalism can replace socialist policies for environmental change.  From examining behavioural economics, Al Gore’s seminal documental An Inconvenient Truth, and case studies of people across the country making small changes that benefit both them and the planet, we will be putting forward positive solutions which we firmly believe can help everyone improve their own economic and personal wellbeing, whilst also helping the planet.

Elizabeth Anderson is Head of External Relations at Parliament Street

Patrick Sullivan is Chief Executive at Parliament Street

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