Boris is right that speed matters, but it’s a green recovery that we need fast
If the reports in the Sunday papers this weekend were true, then tomorrow the prime minister will set out his vision for how the UK government plans to respond to the serious and grave threats facing the economy as the global pandemic continues.
It will also be the first time since the lockdown in March that the government has had the chance to put climate and nature back on top of its agenda. The need to do so could not be more urgent.
Over the past three months, it’s been right that the government has focused on the global health crisis, but the climate and nature crises are still in full swing. Last week, record temperatures were recorded in the Arctic, meanwhile, nature is under huge pressure, with no sign that catastrophic declines in species and habitats are slowing. As the UK looks for a way out of the coronavirus crisis, it must also seek to protect itself from these other interconnected and serious threats of the 21st century.
Five important building blocks, with infrastructure number one
To that end, we have today published our Blueprint for a resilient economy. This sets out, based on our own analysis and expert research, what we believe to be the five most important building blocks of an economy that not only works for the planet but also, equally importantly, for the security and welfare of the people of the UK too. The first of these is infrastructure investment, to put the country on the right track to meet its climate goals. We highlight the current £14.1 billion hole in spending needed to meet these goals.
Our report tells the story of how this moment could be a major turning point in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
We must not repeat the mistakes of the past
The source of the coronavirus crisis has reminded us that the health of our environment underpins the health of our people and the economy. If it is ignored, the UK will continue to be exposed to devastating shocks, from future pandemics to the effects of climate change and ecological collapse. We must take the lessons we have learnt over the past few months and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, restoring balance in our relationship with the environment we all depend on.
And we have so much to gain from doing so, both economically and socially. There are benefits for business: the government’s own figures make it clear that stimulating private investment in the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and industry would see annual profits of UK businesses rise by £6 billion in 2030. And there are plenty of jobs in it too: a recent economy-wide analysis estimates there could almost 700,000 new roles in the low carbon and renewable sector by 2030, split across low carbon electricity, low carbon heat, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. The beauty of these industries, and what should attract the government to support them, if for no other reason, is that these are jobs that can be created right across the country, helping to revive areas that have seen jobs decline.
We’re being supported today by the Conservative MP for Rother Valley, Alexander Stafford. Writing in City AM today, he says, “the prime minister and chancellor have both spoken out in favour of ‘building back better’ for climate and nature, we need to ensure that actions match words”.
In addition, we’ve been working closely with colleagues from across the environmental sector to make sure we connect over 10,000 people online with their MPs tomorrow in the first ever ‘virtual lobby’. At this years’ Time is Now lobby people across the UK will be speaking directly to their MPs about their concerns for a ‘healthy, green and fair’ recovery (it’s not too late to take part).
The clamour for a green recovery is growing from all quarters
We know we are releasing our message today as just one of very many voices: businesses, charities, artists, local authorities, politicians, government advisers, heads of nature organisations have all have called loudly in recent weeks for a green recovery.
Will we build back green or grey? Tomorrow’s announcement by the PM is a decisive moment that will set the UK’s trajectory for decades. The reports in the papers this weekend were very worrying reading – with little mention of the infrastructure needed to get the UK back on track to tackle climate change – and the possibility of a bonfire of planning regulations removing vital protections for nature. Along with the majority of Britons who want a greener future and believe climate change is a crisis as serious as Covid-19, we will be watching closely tomorrow. This is the major test of the government’s resolve to deliver a green recovery.