“Achieving the UK’s climate goals and rebuilding the economy fit naturally together. Each makes the other possible. Success demands that we do both. The actions recommended by the CCC will deliver an improved economy, better public health, improved biodiversity and access to nature, cleaner air, more comfortable homes and highly productive and rewarding employment.”
Over the past weeks, there have been several looks at the longer-term – and how positive changes might come out of the crisis:
The idea of transitioning to a ‘greener future’ has also been looked at by many others these last weeks:
In the most tragic of circumstances, the lockdown has given a glimpse of how a more sustainable Devon might look, feel and sound. People have experienced quieter streets for walking and cycling, heard more bird song, seen wildlife and felt a greater connection and appreciation for green spaces around them.
There is a new openness for change. The zeitgeist clear to me, (and maybe everyone), from conversations on the street and in my networks, as well as what’s in the media, is that this crisis offers opportunities to start doing things differently, that we can’t go ‘back to normal’ but must go forward to create something new.
The Green New Deal is an ambitious plan to secure a safe climate and fairer society, by totally transforming our economy.
Including the New Economics Foundation:
And over ten years ago, the NEF had proposed a ‘green new deal’:
What is clear from all of these is a widespread feeling for the need for substantive change:
And the most substantive proposals, perhaps, come from the body which gives independent advice to government on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change.
Here are the main points from their latest report:
25 June 2020
Ministers must seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says today.
In its annual report to Parliament, the Committee provides comprehensive new advice to the Government on delivering an economic recovery that accelerates the transition to a cleaner, net-zero emissions economy and strengthens the country’s resilience to the impacts of climate change…
The Committee’s new analysis expands on its May 2020 advice to the Prime Minister in which it set out the principles for building a resilient recovery. In its new report, the Committee has assessed a wide set of measures and gathered the latest evidence on the role of climate policies in the economic recovery. Its report highlights five clear investment priorities in the months ahead:
- Low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future. There are vital new employment and reskilling opportunities across the country if Governments support a national plan to renovate buildings and construct new housing to the highest standards of energy and water efficiency, to begin the shift to low-carbon heating systems, and to protect against overheating. Roll-out of ‘green passports’ for buildings and local area energy plans can begin immediately.
- Tree planting, peatland restoration, and green infrastructure. Investing in nature, including in our towns and cities, offers another quick route to opportunities for highly-skilled employment, and outcomes that improve people’s lives. By making substantial changes in our use of land, which are needed to meet the UK’s Net Zero target, we will bring significant benefits for the climate, biodiversity, air quality, and flood prevention.
- Energy networks must be strengthened for the net-zero energy transformation in order to support electrification of transport and heating. Government has the regulatory tools to bring forward private sector investment. New hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure will provide a route to establishing new low-carbon British industries. Fast-tracked electric vehicle charging points will hasten the move towards a full phase out of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032 or earlier.
- Infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely. Dedicated safe spaces for walking and cycling, more bike parking and support for shared bikes and e-scooters can help the nation get back to work in a more sustainable way. For home working to be truly a widespread option, resilient digital technology (5G and fibre broadband) will be needed.
- Moving towards a circular economy. Within the next five years, we can not only increase reuse & recycling rates rapidly but stop sending biodegradable wastes to landfill. Local authorities need support to invest strategically in separated waste collections and recycling infrastructure and to create new regional jobs.
There are also opportunities to support the transition and the recovery by investing in the UK’s workforce, and in lower-carbon behaviours and innovation:
- Reskilling and retraining programmes. The net-zero economy will require a net-zero workforce, able to install smart low-carbon heating systems and to make homes comfortable; to design, manufacture and use low-carbon products and materials; and to put carbon back, rather than taking carbon out, from under the North Sea. Now is the time to build that workforce and to equip UK workers with vital skills for the future.
- Leading a move towards positive behaviours. There is a window for Government to reinforce the ‘climate-positive’ behaviours that have emerged during the lockdown, including increased remote working, cycling and walking. The public sector must lead by example by encouraging remote working. It also needs to innovate in order that customer service can be provided effectively remotely.
- Targeted science and innovation funding. Kick-starting research and innovation now in low-carbon and adaptation technologies will facilitate the changes needed in the decades ahead and build UK competitive advantage. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of research if we are to understand fully the threats and learn how to manage them.
Achieving the UK’s climate goals and rebuilding the economy fit naturally together. Each makes the other possible. Success demands that we do both. The actions recommended by the CCC will deliver an improved economy, better public health, improved biodiversity and access to nature, cleaner air, more comfortable homes and highly productive and rewarding employment.
The District Council wants to act on this:
And this week, there’s an online session for the County: