The Green New Deal for Northern Ireland

What is it? The Green New Deal for Northern Ireland is a joined up approach to the ‘triple crunch’ of recession, rising energy prices and climate change. The proposal is a simple one: investing in an ambitious programme to cut consumption of fossil fuels can create thousands of new jobs; help secure our energy supply; and build a competitive low-carbon economy. Around 10% of Northern Ireland’s income is spent on importing fossil fuels on which we are 99% dependent for our energy. Facing a future of rising energy prices we risk serious economic and social failure unless we act swiftly to reduce that dependence.

Who are we?

A cross-sectoral initiative.

The following organisations form the ‘steering group’: Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), NI Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), Institute of Directors (IoD), Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), The following Organisations are members: Action Renewables, Bryson Group, Chamber of Commerce, Construction Employers Federation, Friends of the Earth(FoE), NI Environment Link (NIEL), NI Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA), NI Manufacturing, and Translink

The group is also advised by several expert individuals in various fields.

Introduction

Recession - we are in the grip of a serious recession, job losses are mounting and business is suffering. Energy Supply – Last year oil prices reached almost $150 a barrel.  This has lowered considerably however oil prices are volatile and will inevitably rise. 99% of Northern Ireland’s energy comes from imported fossil fuels, leaving us highly vulnerable to the price and politics of oil with serious implications for security of supply Climate Change – the threat from climate change and our need to cut emissions in line with global agreements while building a low carbon economy in order to remain internationally competitive.

But from threats come opportunities. The Green New Deal Group proposes a transformational policy programme aimed at tackling growing unemployment and declining demand inspired by Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. This programme involves policies and novel funding mechanisms to substantially reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Approaches similar to this are being taken by many Governments around the world: from South Korea and China to Australia and the USA. Centred on moving power and transport infrastructures away from their dependence on fossil fuels.

The proposals of the Green New Deal group show that by focussing on reducing Northern Ireland’s vast imported energy bill we can create in the region of 24,000 (see appendix A) high and low skilled jobs in the short term; substantially reduce our dependence on imported energy; make significant inroads into tackling fuel poverty; comply with international agreements to cut CO2 emissions; and lay the foundations of an internationally competitive low-carbon economy, thus securing  employment and business success for the long term.

The Vision

Existing Housing

Refurbish tens of thousands of existing homes each year with full insulation and renewable energy, including the 137,000 homes that fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard and thus making significant inroads into fuel poverty.

Renewable Energy

‘Decarbonise’, regionalise and localise the supplies of both electricity and heat through large-scale renewables, micro-generation and using fossil fuels more efficiently.

Public Buildings

Transform the energy performance of public and commercial buildings through energy efficiency measures and making ‘every building a power station’.

Sustainable Mobility

Transform our transport system to be fit for purpose in the coming era of high oil and carbon prices by providing a real public transport choice for everyone.

Employment and Skills

Employ a ‘carbon army’ of high- and lower-skilled workers to implement this vast systematic reconstruction programme creating around 24,000 new jobs.

Sustainable Industries

Create thousands of ‘green collar’ jobs in the £3,000 billion world market for Low Carbon Environmental Goods and Services.

Financing

Develop a wide-ranging package of financial innovations and incentives to assemble and leverage the very large sums needed to implement such a programme, based on collaboration and partnership between the public sector, the private sector, other stakeholders and the public.

Next Steps

The Green New Deal builds on our traditional strengths in manufacturing, construction and agriculture and offers the prospect of a sustainable future for those industries, as well as providing Northern Ireland with a distinctive competitive advantage as it achieves low carbon status.

The Green New Deal Group will produce a series of papers setting out a package of measures for housing; public buildings; commercial buildings; renewable energy; sustainable industries; employment and skills; and finance mechanisms.

A series of working groups have been formed to take this work forward. The prize is a considerable one: a way out of recession; significant job opportunities; escape from almost total dependence on imported fossil fuels; significant reductions in fuel poverty; cuts in our carbon emissions in line with international obligations; and the foundations of a competitive low carbon economy of the future.

Thanks to Jim Kitchen, Former director Sustainable Development Commission.