Johnson must support green recovery

| 25th June 2020
Government failing to address climate crisis but action could be boosted by green recovery from economic shock of coronavirus.

Johnson can also stop squandering tens of billions of pounds on new roads.

The government is being urged to take more action on climate change after a report highlighted a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for a green recovery from the pandemic.

The latest report from the Committee on Climate Change said the government was not making needed progress on the climate crisis but action could be boosted by moves to recover from the economic shock of coronavirus.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said the report was "a stark reminder of the gap between rhetoric and reality" on the Government's progress on the legal goal of cutting emissions to net zero by 2050, set a year ago.

Ambitious

"Now is the moment for government to step up and bring forward the most ambitious green recovery programme in the world to address the jobs crisis facing so many people, improve our quality of life and fulfil the UK's leadership" as hosts of the key UN "Cop26" climate talks in 2021, he said.

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist with the CBI business group, backed the need for government-led strategies on energy efficiency, cutting emissions from transport and sustainable manufacturing and industrial processes.

"As we look to build back better from the Covid-19 crisis, we reach a critical moment in our fight against the climate emergency. Business stands shoulder to shoulder with political leaders and consumers in its desire for ambitious change," she said.

Friends of the Earth climate specialist Muna Suleiman urged the Government to adopt all of the recommendations of the report as lockdown eased.

Sky-rocket

She said road transport was the largest sector for emissions and a priority to make changes. "Lockdown made pollution from emissions go down, because we didn't have a choice.

"Now we can travel again it's up to government to keep pollution down by giving people better choices to walk, cycle and take public transport when it's safe to do so.

"It can also stop squandering tens of billions of pounds on new roads," she urged.

Sir Richard Leese, chair of the Local Government Association's city regions board, said: "Demand for green jobs is due to sky-rocket as we move towards a net zero economy and local government, with its local knowledge and expertise, is best-placed to ensure the workforce in every region of the country can successfully surf the new wave of employment opportunities."

Benefit

He said councils need to be given long-term funding, devolved powers and easier access to Government funding pots to help them deliver green jobs and cut emissions.

Gareth Redmond-King, from WWF, said a green recovery was the only option "unless we want to swap one crisis for another" and Rosie Rogers from Greenpeace UK said things such as energy efficiency, cycling and saving peatlands were essential.

"The Committee on Climate Change have shown the Government where they need to put their money and all eyes are now on the Chancellor to make it happen," she said.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: "If the UK is to lead the global zero emissions agenda, we need a competitive marketplace and a competitive business environment to encourage more manufacturers to build and sell here.

"We need a long term and ambitious policy package that safeguards industry and jobs, allows people from all income groups and regions to adapt and benefit, and, crucially, does not undermine sales of today's low-emission technologies, including popular hybrids, all of which are essential to deliver air quality and climate change goals now."

This Author

Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.

Image: Andrew Parsons/ i-Images, via Flickr. 

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