Abbott: green tech key to deficit reduction

Dianne Abbott has called for the next Labour leader to make the party greener. In an interview with Resonance FM she said green tech was the key to deficit reduction.

So far in Labour leadership contest, there has been very little discussion of climate change and the environment.

Together with green direct action campaigner Graham Thompson, I quizzed leadership contender Dianne Abbott today for the London-based radio station, Resonance FM, as part of what I hope will be a series of interviews about green issues with each of the contenders.

Abbott said the next leader of Labour should put climate change on the agenda because of the economy:

“what would help us get out of the deficit we’re in is investing for growth and particularly investing in green technologies – things like wind turbines and retrofitting houses …

“green politics is very important because it’s a way of tapping into the idealism of young people. It was a long time ago when idealistic young people had the Labour Party as their first option, and we need to make the Labour Party the choice of those idealists again.”

Questioned about the collision between parts of the Labour base and some trade unionists who have the defended fossil fuel industries, Abbott compared these industries to the arms industry, and said she considered it was “reasonable” to make this comparison of the coal and oil industries to the tobacco and weapons industries. She said:

“I think it’s a reasonable analogy, I think that these are old technologies, they’re technologies that for all sorts of reasons, the wider society can’t continue to bear the costs, and we need to move forward and we need to move away from them. The oil spill should have made a lot of people think twice about things and doing drilling offshore.”

Abbott said the next leader need to put green industries at the heart of their economic policies, saying:

“The next leader of the Labour Party has to put it (climate change) on the agenda – he has to, or she has to, make it central, and tie it into these broader issues of how we transform the British economy in the 21st Century. We can’t be reliant on building missiles and building cars – we have to transform our economy, and the green agenda is very central.”

Abbott said as well being the only candidate to oppose the expansion of Heathrow on the record, she is also “the only candidate that’s clearly against Trident” and that she doesn’t agree with nuclear power because “the costs involved in decommissioning these stations are not properly factored in.”

She went on to criticise the green movement for “not necessarily embracing diversity” – something she previously wrote about for The Guardian: “Almost without exception, the people who write, email and lobby me on the subject (of climate change) are white and middle class. Yet my constituency is three-quarters black and ethnic minority and one of the poorest in the country… The narrowness of the climate change movement’s social base does not detract from the cogency of the argument.”

You can hear the podcast of the interview at Resonance FM – and you can see how Dianne voted on climate issues in the last parliament here.

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