IGP Stories

Why Universal Basic Services Will Help Us Go Green

Social Prosperity Climate Emergency Public Services

Andrew Percy

The IGP is taking forward its pioneering work on UBS and creating a future for all in the UK. New experimental work will be at the core of co-produced solutions in the Prosperity Co-Lab (PROCOL) UK in 2020. Here Andrew Percy explains why UBS is green.

Proposals for Green New Deals include some or all of Universal Basic Services, why?

Green New Deal (GND) proposals and proponents are addressing the big, existential challenge for our time: how do we transition to an environmentally sustainable economy with a socially sustainable settlement? Facing this question requires wrestling with change, and in particular how to change. The status quo is always and naturally the default, and so any proposals for something different have to explain how the change can be implemented. Explaining how a GND can be implemented in a peaceful and democratic society is why UBS is always part of the plan.

A GND necessarily involves substantial changes to the structure of the economy, and with that to the labour market and people’s behaviours. New energy must replace old energy, new industries must replace old industries, and new work must replace old work, and we will have to adopt new ways of doing the same old things. This will be a structural transition that affects everyone, what we do, and how we do it.

So the first task for any GND is create the conditions that will allow structural change to be embraced, especially by those who will be most affected. That means addressing the causes of insecurity and creating an environment in which people feel safe engaging in the changes. Creating believable entitlements to basic services is what creates the secure environment needed.

The second task of a GND is to purposefully orientate the resources of the society towards public goods, and in particular in service of the goals of reducing GHGs, increasing efficiency and reducing waste generally. In societies normalised to the holy mantra of “choice”, which is what the developed world societies that most need to change are orientated towards, this will not be easy. The approach most likely to succeed will be to create low cost, preferably free, alternatives to the activities we need to do less of. These alternatives need to be universally available because we need as much traction as possible. Free public mass transport is an obvious example of this kind of activity that will accelerate the move away from carbon-fuelled personalised transport.

The third issue facing GND proposals is the cost of doing the first two tasks. The actual cost of the green investments in renewable energy are going to be dwarfed by the costs of preparing and securing the support of the society. And this is the reason why Universal Basic Services has a such a crucial role to play because it is the most efficient, lowest cost way to achieve these goals. Partly through shared use, partly through mutual service support, partly through direct addressing of need, public services yield efficiencies and cost savings that are not available through market-based alternatives.

There’s no surprise that the GND proposals include UBS, without UBS there will be no GND in the advanced societies that are crucial to the transition we all need.

#TheWayForward #TheFutureofBritain #TheNewDeal

Image from Chris Barbalis on Unsplash.

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