The Labour Party’s reversal of its pledge to invest £28bn in our future economy is massively disappointing, and ironically on the very day when the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service announced that the planet heated by 1.5 degrees.
Political short termism has triumphed yet again. Of course they will call it pragmatism but that depends on where your realism starts. Mine starts with the non-negotiable realities of the planetary balance. You cannot negotiate with floodwater, with a heat dome or bush fire, a drought or a failed harvest. The heat that is building in our oceans inevitably results in hurricanes and extreme weather events. They are unstoppable.
Our economy, however, is a man-made construct over which we have control. Sadly the current designs of our economic and political systems are not geared to ensuring the future of humanity.
Let’s be realistic about the £28 billion. Phase 1 of HS2 is expected to cost the taxpayer £66 billion, for the sake of reducing the journey to Birmingham by 20 minutes and doing nothing to levelling up the North. The Afghan war cost us £37 billion* and offers us zero return on that investment. Why do governments invest so much in things that do us so little good?
Compared to the world’s wealthiest people £28 bn is small change. The Arnaut family wealth is estimated at $220 bn, Elon Musk at $182 bn and Jeff Bezos at $177 bn. And there lies the problem: we are failing to tax the world’s richest people. The money is there to save humanity, but while we just threaten struggling families and those on good to moderate incomes with increased income tax, we merely confirm our route to self-destruction.
*Frank Ledwidge, Investment in Blood, Yale University Press