Why is a Basic Income Good for the Environment?

By: Nick Humberstone @NickHGreen

Climate breakdown is still happening. It’s not going to stop unless we do something about it. We can’t carry on as we are and just hope the problem goes away. It’s a monumental challenge for humanity to confront, and it’s going to require drastic change in every area of society.

I know what you’re thinking:

What’s Universal Basic Income (UBI) got to do with climate breakdown?

Well, a Basic Income will allow us to kickstart the complete transformation that we need to prevent the worst effects of climate breakdown. 

Here’s five ways a Basic Income will help us address the climate crisis:

Better workplaces

With a Basic Income we can not only choose work that matters to us, we can also choose to work for more ethical and more environmentally-friendly employers. When you know that you have your Basic Income to fall back on, you can afford to be more selective about the kind of work you do and the kind of organisations you work for. This will inevitably lead us to choose employers with higher ethical standards and a smaller environmental impact.

The surge in demand for green jobs will be driven by workers, who will suddenly have greater bargaining power thanks to their Basic Income.

This will encourage businesses to adopt better workplace practices.

Going local

As well as giving us the bargaining power to choose more environmentally-friendly employers, a Basic Income will allow us to look for work more locally. Knowing that we have our Basic Income already, we can be more selective about where we work.

We can choose workplaces that are closer to where we live, which not only means a shorter commute and more free time but it also opens up the possibility of walking or cycling to work, or taking public transport instead of a car.

A new workforce

With a Basic Income, studying or retraining for new roles becomes more accessible. To create a sustainable future, we’re going to need a big shift towards environmentally-friendly jobs. Time’s up for coal and fossil fuels, and the jobs that rely on them. An example of one way to make progress on our climate targets is to insulate our homes properly, and we’re going to need to train a lot of people to achieve this.

A Basic Income provides a safety net that allows us to retrain for the jobs of the future.

Buying ethical

A Basic Income enables us to make more ethical decisions with our money. Knowing that you have a regular, guaranteed income means you can make decisions about how and where to spend it. We’re currently encouraged to build up savings because if something unexpected happens, like losing your job, you may need it to survive. A guaranteed income gives you something to fall back on if things go wrong. That means you can make more ethical decisions with the money you have, and consider products not just on their impact on your wallet but on their environmental and ethical impact as well.

Climate activism:

A Basic Income will result in the UK becoming more democratic. It opens up options for ordinary people – particularly young people – to get involved in politics. That might include working on campaigns or even running for election as a local councillor.

A Basic Income will allow a wider range of people to run for elected office, rather than just those who can already afford to give up their time for free.

Young people are the most aware of and the most worried about the effects of climate breakdown. It’s essential that we have their voices in the room if we’re to make the case for the complete transformation we need to give us a future to look forward to.

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