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UK Electric Car “Revolution” Leading The Way For Post-Covid Recovery?

Ed Miliband, British MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has said that an electric car “revolution” will create jobs, as well as protect the environment in the UK.

Miliband, who served as Leader of the Labour Party between 2010 and 2015 and was also leading the way on sustainable infrastructure programs formerly held the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in 2010 under Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Now, more than a decade later, Miliband is starting to realise his vision as he canvases for policies that will a) boost electric car manufacturing in the UK, b) roll out electric car charging stations throughout the country, and c) make the new technologies accessible to middle- and low-income earners.

Mr Miliband will say a “green transformation” could make Britain a fairer country and create good, secure jobs, as reported by the Daily Express. He’ll be focusing on boosting the country’s electric vehicle production and is also proposing that interest-free loans should be offered for new and used electric vehicles to low- to middle-income earners to remove the upfront cost barrier.

“By extending the option to buy an electric car to those on lower incomes and accelerating the roll-out of charging points in regions that have been left out [in the initial rollout], we would ensure that everyone could benefit – rather than bake in unfairness,” Mr Miliband said ahead of the event.

“And we would invest in securing the industry’s future. While it’s right that government has said the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will end, it’s wrong if it is imposing a massive transition on our manufacturers from Whitehall then washing its hands of responsibility.”

“We’re investing up to £2.8 billion in driving the switch to electric vehicles, working with industry to support the installation of thousands of chargepoints, and boosting the development of new technologies through the Automotive Transformation Fund,” said a government spokesperson, according to the Daily Express.

So, while Miliband is a front-bencher for the Labour Party and sits on the left of the political spectrum, this kind of legislation is picking up in what is a fairly conservative country with a free-market economy. And, of course, in the United States, the Green New Deal – a massive infrastructure project that would cost tens of trillions of dollars and build out green, sustainable infrastructure across the country – has entered the political conversation as well. And the easiest way to explain why the Green New Deal and programs like the electric car “revolution” in the UK could save the post-Covid global economy.

The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1939. By the time FDR entered office as the President of the United States, the country’s economy was utterly broken. The Great Depression was perhaps one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. And, less than a decade after Roosevelt died in office in 1945 (having won four elections in a row, leading Republicans to impose term limits, because FDR’s programs were so popular that they would never have won an election again), the United States had transformed into a global superpower.

The focus here is the New Deal’s public works programmes, which organised and provided funds for the building of public infrastructure such as government buildings, airports, hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and dams. The the Public Works Administration (PWA) spent $3.3 billion with private companies to build 34,599 projects between 1933 and 1935. It was tremendously successful, with the Federal Jobs Guarantee creating literally millions of jobs and transforming the United States into a truly advanced, developed economy in less than a decade. Many of America’s roads, bridges, airports, dams, post offices and hospitals that are still standing today are the outcomes of Roosevelt’s visionary policies (which were also met with resistance at the time). Green, eco-focused policies and programs are the next logical step.

Today’s advanced economies were all built for the 20th Century. Our challenges in the 21st Century – particularly the challenge of climate change – are not even remotely the same as they were 100 years ago. Add to this that the global economy has been destroyed to a very similar extent to what we saw 90 years ago (although our economies have a radically different shape today), before Roosevelt changed the course of American history.

The electric car revolution in the UK and progressive, labour-focused ideologies and Keynesian economics are the obvious answer to the world’s economic struggles. And we can change the course of climate change by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels at the same time. Two birds, one stone.

“What is it going to cost?” they’ll ask. I don’t care, the cost of not doing it will be far, far, far greater and I’d prefer that the planet doesn’t go up in flames. It’s time to start putting policies like this at the forefront of our political discourse.

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