The Blog

Why Students Should Vote Green

Last week Amelia-Rose Tighe suggested that students should vote for the Labour party rather than give their support to the Greens. But there are many good reasons why today's young people, students and others, are voting Green.

People who are now in their early 20s can expect to have children who will be middle aged in around 2060. What kind of world will they live in? We know that unless we take fairly drastic measures now to limit our CO2 emissions then there will be no chance of keeping average global temperature rises below 2ºC.

We have reached the stage where reductions in energy usage are more important than changes to electricity generation. The planning and building of big infrastructure projects take a long time. We don't have the luxury of time: it is widely accepted that our CO2 emissions must start to decline by 2020 if we are to avoid catastrophic warming. The Labour manifesto acknowledges this.

Does Labour have any detailed policies to make that happen? The Green Party manifesto contains firm commitments such as a tax on aviation fuel (or a flight tax based on distance flown). Labour has no similar proposal.

Their manifesto makes clear that there will be no spending that requires additional borrowing. But the government should borrow money when it can do so at record low levels of interest. The Greens propose to spend serious money on an ambitious programme to insulate houses and install renewable energy. Labour has no such plans.

The Greens have a commitment to re-introduce the Fuel Duty Escalator to encourage people to leave their cars at home. Again, no plan from Labour.

When it comes to protecting the Green Belt and other sensitive sites there is no commitment by Labour to repeal the Coalition's planning rules. The National Planning Policy Framework created a presumption in favour of so-called "sustainable development". There are supposed to be safeguards in the Framework yet a local council in Kent has granted planning consent for a quarry even though it will destroy an ancient piece of woodland that is habitat to some of England's tiny remaining number of nightingales. If this site is not safe then nowhere is safe. The Green Party would repeal this legislation. Labour says nothing.

The picture is no better when it comes to economic and social policy. Labour's record here is patchy at best. The gap between rich and poor actually widened in the thirteen years of recent Labour rule. They did nothing about tax avoidance. They continued with the Tory private finance initiative which obliges schools and hospitals to pay massively over the odds for repairs and services. Where is Labour's proposal to introduce a Financial Transaction Tax? This is a tiny levy (0.1%) on bonds and equities but it would potentially raise £20billion every year. Where is Labour's wealth tax? The Greens propose both of these in order to reduce inequality.

These are just a few of the deficiencies in Labour's proposals. There are many more. Today's students have a right to ask about the world their children will inherit. They may very well conclude that only the Green Party provides real hope for those children.

Chris Foren is running as Green Party candidate in the Hyde Park & Woodhouse area of Leeds. He is a graduate of Leeds University.