New Green Party Leaders Make ‘Solid Commitment to Leaving Fossil Fuels Where They Belong’ in Inaugural Speech

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The “accelerating climate crisis” is the “greatest threat to our security today” warned Caroline Lucas, the newly elected co-leader of the Green Party, on Friday.

Speaking at the autumn party conference, she said in times that are “the hottest ever on record and when half the Arctic Sea ice has disappeared”, we need “immediate investment in a green and prosperous energy future”.

And, conference, that also means a solid commitment to leaving fossil fuels where they belong – firmly and safely in the ground.”

The MP for Brighton Pavilion also called for “No fracking, no nuclear, no…”. The rest of her sentence was drowned out by the bellow of applause.

Lucas delivered these demands in her inaugural speech as party co-leader, which was livestreamed from Birmingham University.

It had just been announced that she and her co-candidate, Jonathan Bartley, had won 86 per cent of first preference votes. They replace Natalie Bennett as the new co-leaders of the Green Party

Outlining her vision for a Green industrial strategy, Lucas called for a “modernised infrastructure” that would make Britain’s future “energy lean and time rich”.

She said local communities must be empowered to take control of their own energy futures, and that every household should benefit from the security and affordability of a “solar panel-clad roof”.

Moving on to the topic of building more offshore windfarms, Lucas heralded a ‘blue new deal’ for the “11 million people who live in coastal communities”.

She said Green industrial strategy makes “vital environmental sense… good economic sense… complete common sense.”

Take Back Control

Jonathan Bartley, the party’s work and pensions spokesman, said electoral reform will be vital to achieving the Green Party’s industrial strategy vision.  

He said Greens must be at the “forefront of rebalancing our democracy” to avoid only swing voters in marginal seats being the voices that are really heard.

He said: “Over a million people voted Green in the last election. They deserve to have their views represented in parliament. We owe it to them to be more ambitious.”

Lucas repurposed to the Brexit campaigners’ slogan, ‘Take back control’, to call for a redistribution of control of major institutions.

She said: “That means… taking control of our democracy, taking control of our railways so they are owned by public, taking control of the NHS and keeping it out of private hands, taking control of our energy systems, our banking systems.”

While both leaders lamented the outcome of the “bitterly fought” EU referendum and its political fallout, neither elucidated on the impact it could have on environmental legislation, regulation or energy policy.

But Lucas called for a second referendum once the Brexit deal has been agreed:

Also noticeable by its absence in their inaugural speech was any mention of the COP21 Paris agreement, or the UK’s failure to ratify it.

Yesterday the director of Climate Action Network Europe, Wendel Trio, warned that the UK is risking its reputation as a climate leader if it fails to ratify the Paris Agreement by the end of this year. 

However, separate talks are scheduled for tomorrow at the party conference about the Paris agreement and Brexit.

DeSmog UK will be tweeting from the conference. Follow us on Twitter from 1:15pm for live updates.

Photo: Green Party via Twitter

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Victoria Seabrook writes about climate change, the criminal justice system, and social justice. She is news editor at independent local newspaper Hackney Citizen and co-editor of Prison Watch UK.

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