Leading UK firms have called on the UK Government to prioritise a green economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis.

In an open letter to Boris Johnson, the CEOs of more than 60 British organisations have asked the government to focus on excluding polluting industries ‘without a proper climate plan’ from government help as our economy begins to come back to life after lockdown.

They have listed a number of key recommendations for the government, including:

  • Invest in infrastructure, technology and skills to create jobs that help sustainability
  • Exclude companies in “polluting industries” that do not have a proper climate plan
  • Restore ecosystems on land and in our oceans by incentivising walking and cycling
  • Support sustainable food, farming and fishing
  • Swiftly pass environmental laws and bring in targets in law to restore ecosystems
  • Bring global leaders together to plan for a sustainable economic recovery

Richard Walker, the managing director of Iceland Foods, said:

“The economic recovery from this global health crisis must put the restoration of nature at its heart – because that is the only way we can continue to power our human endeavour sustainably. If nature is protected, we are protected.”

In response, a government spokesperson said: “As we rebuild our economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we must continue to shape an economy and society that are cleaner, greener and more resilient.”

The public do not want a return to pre-lockdown emissions

With the improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions experienced by the general public during lockdown, there is certainly little desire to return to the way we used to live and work before lockdown.

In a recent poll, a fifth of members of the motoring group the AA, said they would work more from home in the future. With trends like this among others, the Government’s plans to invest £250m in UK cycle lanes to encourage commuters to ride to work instead of using public transport and cars is most welcome.

Campaigners have called for a fundamental redesign of the transport system to help prevent a bounce back in air pollution levels once the lockdown ends. Restrictions brought in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic have led to a huge drop in road traffic and a fall in air pollution of up to 60% in parts of the UK. A YouGov poll commissioned by Greenpeace UK found 71% of people were concerned about the possibility of air pollution returning to pre-lockdown levels. It also found that 58% backed the introduction of cycle lanes on urban main roads, alongside increases in walking infrastructure.

To take the green recovery even further, renewable energy will help, along with increased levels of electric vehicle charging points and better broadband throughout the UK.

However the Government decides to focus it’s investment strategy in rebuilding the UK economy post COVID-19, one thing we are certain of is that public opinion strongly suggests that “when the nation gets moving again, it should do so in a cleaner, safer way to protect future generations from climate change.”

 

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