'Faster, further, fairer' climate breakdown action needed

| 27th May 2020
Caroline Lucas. Photo: Patrick Duce / Campaign Against Arms Trade (CC BY-NC-ND).
Caroline Lucas. Photo: Patrick Duce / Campaign Against Arms Trade (CC BY-NC-ND).
IPPR launches Environmental Justice Commission to help lead Britain out of the coronavirus crisis and towards solutions to climate breakdown.

We can build back better.

The UK must go "faster and further" to tackle climate change and loss of nature and rebuild the economy after the coronavirus pandemic, it has been urged.

Ministers must also make sure efforts to shift to a low carbon economy are fairer to those whose jobs and communities are most hit by the change, the Environmental Justice Commission has said.

There should be greater efforts to cut emissions by 2030 and an additional £30 billion a year of public money should be invested to cut emissions from the economy, generate green jobs, protect nature and improve people's lives, it added.

Reductions

As a first step to help recover from the pandemic, public money should be invested in "shovel-ready" green projects that will generate jobs and deliver other benefits, the commission, launched by think tank IPPR, said.

These include a national programme to insulate homes and cut fuel poverty, tree-planting projects and schemes to restore peatland that will also boost nature, and investment in an electric vehicle charging network which will help tackle air pollution.

Before the pandemic, the UK was already set to fall short on existing targets to tackle climate change in the next decade - and those targets only put the country on track to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

But the legal goal for "net zero" emissions requires a 100 percent reduction in pollution overall by mid-century.

In an interim report, the commission is calling for the government to commit to a tougher interim target for 2030, of 66-69 percent emissions reductions from 1990 levels, compared to the current equivalent target of 61 percent.

Brutally

And the UK should go further, by adopting new targets to tackle emissions and the environmental impacts, such as deforestation associated with products imported from other parts of the world, it added.

The report also said the move to cutting carbon from the economy needed to be fairer, with a £5 billion investment in a national "just transition fund" to support communities and regions most affected by the change.

There will need to be support and training for employees with new skills and new job opportunities for those working in fossil fuel related industries.

For example, support is needed to secure jobs for those working in the oil and gas sector in other areas which could use their skills such as technology to capture and store carbon, transporting hydrogen and offshore wind.

Co-chair of the commission, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: "The good news is that decarbonising our economy and restoring nature offers us a vital opportunity to fix an economic model that is not only driving environmental destruction, but also failing the vast majority of people across the UK, as the fall-out from Covid-19 has so brutally exposed.

Rise

"We can build back better - but only if we embed an agenda of rapid decarbonisation within a broader social and economic justice agenda, and ensure that those communities most affected by change have the power to lead and shape it."

Luke Murphy, head of the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission, said: "This is the moment for big, bold action by the government to deliver on its promises to decarbonise the UK economy and restore nature.

"The first step should be a no-brainer: investing right now in projects like insulating homes, planting trees and infrastructure to increase walking and cycling will create jobs and help kick-start the economy after the Covid-19 crisis."

In response to the report from the cross-party commission, Ed Miliband, who was one of its chairs until he took up the position of shadow business and energy secretary, said: "This important report shows why a green recovery is essential for jobs, tackling the climate crisis and improving quality of life.

"This is the way we can build back better and create a fairer economy and society. There is real urgency for the government to respond and rise to this moment."

This Author

Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.

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