6 September 2008
New Green Party Leader, Caroline Lucas, took to the stage today for her first speech to the party's annual conference to call for a windfall tax on energy profits to kickstart a "Green New Deal" to help people deal with the credit crunch and rising fuel prices.
Dr Lucas, who became the Greens' first ever leader in a landslide result announced on the first day of the conference, yesterday, began the calls for a windfall tax months ago; more recently, MPs, anti-poverty campaigners and environmentalists have joined the campaign.
The "Green New Deal" report, authored by a panel including Dr Lucas, Co-director of Finance For The Future Colin Hines, SolarCentury boss Jeremy Leggett, Guardian Economic Editor Larry Elliot, and former Friends of the Earth chief Tony Juniper, calls for public investment in green-collar jobs in areas including renewable energy. Lucas also backed a programme of free insulation for every home in Britian to create jobs, cut fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.
"Just three companies – BP, Centrica, and Shell – together made £1000 profit every second over the first 6 months of this year.
"These corporations are robbing from the poor to give to the rich and they know it. And it's about time they learned that in a progressive democracy, there is no place for robber barons."
Proposing a Green New Deal in response, Dr Lucas said:
"When the world faced economic depression back in the early 1930s, it was President Roosevelt's New Deal that got people back to work with a massive investment in infrastructure.
"Today we stand on the brink of a triple crisis – a combination of a credit-fuelled financial meltdown, accelerating climate change, and soaring energy prices.
"We need a Green New Deal in response.
"The core would be a 21st century project to make the nation's buildings truly energy efficient, with local authority bonds being issued to raise the necessary funds for a major investment in insulation, efficiency and renewables, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process."
On becoming the Green Party's first ever Leader, Dr Lucas pledged to revive faith in political leadership, saying:
"Do we want leadership like Labour? The clunking fist. The centralisation. The rooting out of any local or national democracy.
"Do we want leadership like the Tories? The PR professional. The marketing man?
"We have to show that politics doesn't have to be that way.
"That you can have leadership that truly represents the values of the Party and the needs of the country – not one small section of it.
"Leadership that can help the party come together, to stick to its principles not sell out in pursuit of power."