Britain risks a repeat of the angry “yellow vests” protests in France if the huge changes needed to prevent a climate disaster fail to tackle the other “injustices” people face, Ed Miliband is warning.
In an interview with The Independent, the former Labour leader said it will be vital the public believes that desperately needed action to end carbon emissions will also “make their lives better”.
Mr Miliband, now the party’s business spokesperson, insisted the transformation could come “with the carrot not the stick”, but acknowledged: “Lifestyles are going to have to change.”
“We are doing this to tackle the climate emergency,” he said, but added: “In doing so, we are not going to leave the other injustices that people face in their lives.”
“That was an example of him not recognising that, if you are going to go down this green road – and I believe we absolutely must do – it has got to be seen as fair.”
The yellow vests protests, sparked by rising fuel prices and a belief they were hitting lower-earners the hardest, saw roads and fuel depots blocked and even major riots.
In the interview, to mark the release of his new book entitled ‘Go Big: How To Fix Our World’, the former leader also:
- Urged Keir Starmer to commit to building 150,000 low-rent homes a year, as the only way to tackle the housing crisis – while saying: “I think that case is being won.”
- Said Labour wants to ensure the skeleton Brexit trade agreement “is implemented as well as it can be” – rather than seek additions to help struggling exporters, professionals and touring artists.
- Suggested the Conservatives are blocking votes at 16, adopted in Scotland and Wales, because they fear the teenagers would vote Labour – saying: “My suspicion is that is their worry.”
- Attacked the “yawning chasm” between the government’s green rhetoric and its lack of action – pointing to the need for half of new cars to be electric within just four years, to meet climate targets, when under 15 per cent are currently.
- Acknowledged even his own vast £30bn Green Economic Recovery plan falls short of Joe Biden’s “inspiring” spending – saying: “It’s a start, but we need to do more.”
- Said Labour’s shadow ministers have “a collective responsibility” to reverse the party’s plight in the polls – because “leadership” is not just a matter for Sir Keir.
- Called for a permanent “citizens assembly” to make proposals to tackle the climate emergency – saying: “We have got to take people with us.”
The book, described as “a vision for how to remake society”, was born out of Mr Miliband’s award-winning podcast called – with typical positivity – Reasons to be Cheerful.
On low-cost housing, it calls for Vienna’s approach, where the city owns 220,000 homes and subsidises a further 200,000 – allowing renters to spend just 25 per cent of incomes on accommodation.
In dismal contrast, the 40-year British policy has been to leave the job to the private sector, which has not delivered and never will do, Mr Miliband argued.
“The next Labour government is going to have to get to grips with the housing crisis and there isn’t a solution without taking action on social housing,” he warned.
On the climate emergency, the book says 200,000 new jobs will be needed, arguing: “This is something to get really excited about.
“Imagine a ‘zero-carbon army’ going from house to house, street by street, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, to insulate homes and help people change the way they heat them.”
He told The Independent: “Lifestyles are going to have to change, but the carrot is much better than the stick – showing people their lives can be better, their homes better insulated, air quality can be better.
“I understand the point about sacrifice, and we are going to have to do some things differently, but I think it’s going to be better, we can create a better world.”
The alternative, the book says, is that “future generations will look back at us as drunken revellers at the carbon party who smashed up the joint and left them with a mess of epic proportions to clear up”.