News of the Green New Deal, now being implemented in Birmingham, is an effective antidote to gloom-laden news bulletins.
Beneficial innovation is rarely recognised and supported by the mainstream but the innovative Birmingham Energy Savers scheme is one exception. This was initiated, with energy and enterprise, by Jon Morris, Matthew Rhodes and Keith Budden, who jointly developed and promoted it under the name of the Green New Deal, within Be Birmingham and the council, right through to delivery.
They achieved on the ground what economists and United Nations leaders first advocated in 2008: a “Green New Deal” to create jobs and revive the economy: a redirection of investment from speculation into job-creating programmes to restore the natural systems that underpin the world economy.
Jon, from the Localise West Midlands thinktank, worked with Matthew from Encraft – an independent consulting engineering firm specialising in microgeneration, on-site renewables and low carbon buildings – to develop the business plan for the city-wide Green New Deal scheme which could create new jobs, apprenticeships and business opportunities for local firms, helping the council to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2026.
It is well under way: from the end of January 2010 the first stage of the £40 million retrofit project offered energy efficiency retrofits and solar photovoltaic installations to their council housing in four areas of the city. The second is extending the service to housing associations and low-income householders and, eventually, at economic cost to private householders commercial premises across the city.
Manager, Be Birmingham, look forward to the development of local supply chains – fitting, supplying and manufacturing – particularly through small local businesses and social enterprises with training schemes. The aim is to create jobs in local enterprises that meet local needs – good for redistribution and local economic empowerment as well as fuel poverty, energy security and low carbon economic development.
We hope that large firms will not be allowed to ‘muscle in’ and seize all the opportunities.
Further good news is the interest shown by independent housing associations such as Castle Vale Community Housing Association (CVCHA), Accord Housing Association, Walsall’s WATMOS Community Homes and Black Country Registered Social Landlords
(RSLs). Speakers have been invited by local authorities in Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, Stoke, Dudley, Solihull, Cardiff and the New Economics Foundation will have a workshop on local GNDs at a forthcoming national conference.
Jon Morris, Matthew Rhodes and Keith Budden received a well-deserved award on November 4th from the Lord Mayor, Len Gregory, at a civic reception in Birmingham Council House.
Finance for the Future
Finance for the Future, a report written by Colin Hines, the convenor of the GND group, and senior accountant Richard Murphy, is extending the vision, proposing that the example of Birmingham be applied country-wide and advocating a new and better use for the Quantitative Easing mechanism: funding the deployment of a ”carbon army” to make every UK building energy-efficient.