Labour will be judged on its response to the most existential crisis of our time.
Campaigners will lay down the gauntlet with a rally for a Labour Green New Deal on the first day of Labour Party Conference 2019. Supporters will gather at 4pm on 21 September on Hove Lawn in Central Brighton.
The rally is being organised by campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal and brings together those leading the calls for a transformative Green New Deal with co-hosts: Momentum, Youth Strikes for Climate, Communications Workers Union (CWU), and Brighton Labour for a Green New Deal.
Speakers will include Dan Carden, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for International Development; Dave Ward, general secretary of CWU; Matt Wrack, general secretary of FBU; Faiza Shaheen Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green; Ali Milani, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and Ruislip constituency; Patrick Foley, Brazil Solidarity Initiative; and Sasha Das Gupta, Labour Against Racism and Fascism.
MC’d by Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar, the rally will be reminiscent of the Parliament Square rally which took place in May 2019 as the UK Parliament declare a climate emergency. On that day Parliament laid the foundations for a bold, fair and urgent response to climate breakdown with its declaration.
That move was backed up by trade unionists, labour members, climate activists and global justice activists at the rally. At Labour Party Conference four months on, this coalition will come back together to demand bold next steps as the labour movement and the left takes charge of building climate justice in the UK.
As Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, argued at Trade Union Congress 2019: “The potential now exists to unite green new dealers and the labour movement around the economic, not just the climate necessities of tackling climate change.”
Our calls for a transformative Green New Deal fundamentally recognise the inseparability of workers’ rights, powerful trade unions, and the struggle for climate and global justice. Labour’s plans to expand democratic public ownership of the economy while repealing repressive trade unions laws don’t just complement, but are fundamentally necessary to a just energy transition.
The rally for a Labour Green New Deal comes as more than 90 constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have voted to submit Labour for a Green New Deal’s motion to Labour Party Conference. That motion includes a commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2030, backed up by calls to rapidly phase out fossil fuels; large-scale investment in renewables; green public integrated transport; supporting developing countries’ climate transitions with transfers of finance, technology and capacity; and more.
These demands are supported by Labour members across the country, but even if the motion passes at Labour Conference its adoption by the Labour Party is not guaranteed. That is at the discretion of the National Policy Forum and Labour leadership.
That’s why we need a strong mobilisation of people across the labour movement to make it clear that a transformative green new deal is not only necessary for addressing climate breakdown, but also securing workers’ rights as the economy changes and crucially to win the upcoming election for Labour.
Climate change will define Labour Conference 2019 and dominate the next government. Labour will form that government, and with around a decade left to overt runaway climate breakdown, Labour will be judged on its response to the most existential crisis of our time. Nothing short of a transformative Green New Deal will do.
Chris Saltmarsh is co-director of Labour for a Green New Deal.