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As the climate crisis comes into ever sharper focus the question of how we pay for a just transition takes on an ever-greater urgency. Plenty of voices tell us that the costs are just too high, especially in the era of Coronavirus – or, more soothingly, that the market will provide. But we cannot afford despair or complacency. It is now time to plan, and to act.
Many people think that economic justice is merely a nice add-on to the climate fight. But if these costs are hoisted onto the shoulders of middle and lower-income groups, then – as the Gilet Jaunes (or Yellow Vests) protests in France showed – hardworking citizens will become cynical, and prey to demagogues, climate deniers and lobbyists who would overturn progress. Tax justice, economic justice, and climate justice therefore must be joined at the hip. There is no other way.
“[They] worry about the end of the world. We worry about the end of the month.”
Gilet Jaune/Yellow Vest protester, 2019
To stave off planetary emergency, we must overhaul old ideologies and change the structure of our economies. We need far greater transparency and accountability, sharp reductions in concentrations of economic power, and tax systems that favour ordinary people and shift the burden towards the polluters and those most able to pay. We must tackle “financialisation,” the increasing role of finance and certain financial techniques, institutions and actors in the real economy which specialise in extracting wealth from others at the expense of the underlying economy – and the environment.
This year Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, said that the climate crisis could be “the greatest commercial opportunity of all time.” It may well be. But the central question is: opportunity for whom?
This conference brings together leading academics, experts and activists to propose tangible policy ideas, specific ones such as carbon taxes, subsidies and citizen dividends, as well as larger macro-economic shifts essential for tacking the climate crisis. This event will address these key questions:
- How can fiscal, regulatory and monetary policies be used to end the fossil fuel era without laying the burden of the transition on lower and middle-income groups?
- How do neoliberalism and laissez-faire economics block us from achieving an economically just climate transition?
- What can be done to make finance the helpful servant of climate policies, rather than their tyrannical master?
- How can we shift the “Overton Window” and amass the political will to allow the alternative economic approaches that are necessary for financing the climate transition?
Associate research fellow, Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica
Co-founder, Extinction Rebellion
Environmental policy consultant
Director and Chair of the Board, Tax Justice Network
Molly Scott Cato
Professor of Green Economics, Roehampton University
Creative Strategist, Tax Justice Network
Author, Tax Justice Network
Professor of Monetary and International Economics, University of Würzburg
Author and Coordinator, Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement
Member of the European Parliament - Greens/EFA Group