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Jeremy Corbyn: Climate emergency is social justice issue and green new deal will benefit Islington

PUBLISHED: 18:24 17 October 2019

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) is joined by Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (left) as he speaks to UK Country Manager for MHI Vestas Offshore Julian Brown (right) during a visit to a wind turbine facility in Fawley, Southampton, to set out how Labour's investment in green energy will create jobs and benefit coastal communities. Picture: Andrew Matthews

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) is joined by Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (left) as he speaks to UK Country Manager for MHI Vestas Offshore Julian Brown (right) during a visit to a wind turbine facility in Fawley, Southampton, to set out how Labour's investment in green energy will create jobs and benefit coastal communities. Picture: Andrew Matthews

PA Wire/PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn this week told the Gazette climate change is a social justice issue and a "green new deal" will financially as well as environmentally benefit people in Islington.

Jeremy Corbyn addresses school strike kids outside Islington Town Hall for the Global Climate Strike. Picture: Twitter @jeremycorbynJeremy Corbyn addresses school strike kids outside Islington Town Hall for the Global Climate Strike. Picture: Twitter @jeremycorbyn

"Yeah, I'm in favour of the climate," the Labour leader joked. He was fresh home after inspecting "amazing technology" at an old oil-fired power station in Fawley, which now employs some 700 people to paint 80-metre wind turbine blades.

If elected Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn has promised a "green industrial revolution" with significant state investment in sustainable energy sources and thousands of high-skilled green jobs.

He says the spoils will make a "great deal" of difference to his Islington North constituents.

"First of all, retrofitting older houses would mean lower energy bills," he said.

"Secondly, solar panel generation on all new buildings will mean residents get a proportion of the savings that come from that - if they are publicly owned buildings.

"Islington Council is doing well on that. Only last night I got a letter from the council inviting me to put solar panels on the roof of my house, so I signed up to see if it's possible and what the cost would be. [...]

"What [a green new deal] will also help with is the creation of jobs in the future, in the manufacture of wind generation and solar panels across the whole country."

In a Gazette article earlier this month, campaigners called for Islington to become car-free after statistics showed an increase in the number of cyclists killed or seriously by injured drivers in the borough between 2014 and 2018.

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Mr Corbyn said: "It's hard to see how you can be a completely car-free environment but I do think the needs of cyclists and pedestrians have to be a priority and, over the past 30 years, there has been the beginnings of a re-balancing.

"I was a councillor in Haringey in the 1970s and I made myself unbelievably unpopular with the council and Labour group by opposing the widening of the Archway Road on the basis that it would bring more traffic rather further south and lead to the widening of Holloway Road, and so on.

"I was part of the campaign against the Archway Road widening, which was ultimately successful. The Department for Transport cancelled the scheme and all the houses they CPO-ed [compulsory purchase ordered] were then sold again all along Archway Road."

Mr Corbyn later opposed a Tory government initiative called the East London Assessment Study in 1990, which he says would have "basically" turned Holloway Road into a "motorway".

He added: "The energy mix for the future will be, if I have anything to do with it, heavily reliant on wind, wave and solar. [...] We can all be our own power stations with our own solar panels."

Labour want to "invest heavily" in power sources like the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and wind farms off the west coast of England to help "phase out" fossil fuels, he said.

The Swansea Bay proposal could be the world's first tidal lagoon power plant, but it needs more funding to be built.

"Across the world," said Mr Corbyn, "the number of people you can now count as environmental refugees is huge. Think of people who have fled from Darfur, where there's been huge environmental damage and deforestation. Think of those that are fleeing from flooded areas. Think of what happened in Mozambique last year with the terrible storms and floods that they had.

"And the damage to our environment in our own communities, with air pollution damaging our children's lungs. Life expectancy is shortest in the largest towns and most polluted places, so a green industrial revolution creates high-skilled jobs but also protects and preserves our environment and open spaces."

He added: "Class is connected to green issues, no doubt about that; levels of pollution are worse for the poorest people."

Mr Corbyn says parks are vital public resources that should be managed to promoted biodiversity, but that everyone can help by "planting wildflowers" in green spaces.

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