Green and Fair Covid-19 Recovery (Friends of the Earth)

As we recover from the impact of Coronavirus, it is vital that the Government delivers an economy which is stronger, greener and more resilient and which will protect jobs and create further opportunities for people. I welcomed the announcement by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of a Green Recovery working group, which forms part of five new ‘recovery roundtables’. These roundtables bring together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics to unleash Britain’s growth potential and to help aid our economic recovery. This group will look at the methods of capturing economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero emissions.

Action is already being taken on this and in his Summer Statement, the Chancellor announced a £3 billion green investment package that could support up to 140,000 green jobs, upgrade buildings and reduce overall emissions. Furthermore, to accommodate for green improvements, including loft, wall and floor insulation, homeowners and landlords in England have the opportunity to apply for vouchers from a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme this year. This could save homeowners up to hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills while creating thousands of jobs for trades people. Finally, the Chancellor set out a £1 billion programme aimed to make public buildings, like schools and hospitals, greener, setting this country on its path to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The UK has played a world-leading role in the fight against climate change and the transition to Clean Growth. The UK was the first country to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050 and the fastest in the whole G20 to cut emissions. Since 1990, UK emissions have been cut by more than 40 per cent whilst the economy has grown by more than two thirds.

The introduction of the Environment Bill sets to continue this country’s work on environmental sustainability, it sets out in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets. The first progress report of the Government’s ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan found that 90 per cent of the priority actions have been delivered or are on track for delivery.

The Government is committed to addressing the issue of air pollution. While early signs show that air pollution has dropped during the outbreak, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has launched a call for evidence so they can establish the impact that Covid-19 is having on air quality to aid the development of future policy.

Building on recent investments, Ministers have outlined their plans to invest a further £2 billion in cycling and walking and to publish a national cycling plan, along with an updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. The first stage of this investment will deliver new pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, cycle and bus-only corridors, safer junctions and wider pavements. There will also be a £50 ‘Fix Your Bike Voucher’ which will help up to 500,000 people bring their old bikes out of retirement.

Please rest assured that reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change will continue to be priorities for myself and the Government.

EXPIRES ON 29.10.20