By Asitha Jayawardena
The battle against coronavirus pandemic could be used to fight against climate change while rebuilding the economy. This is the advice that the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has given on 25 June 2020 on releasing the report Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament.
Although this report contains the analysis of UK climate emissions over the past year, it included the new advice to the UK government on how to use the coronavirus pandemic in the ongoing battle against climate change as well as rebuilding the economy.
Building on the letter of advice to the UK Prime Minister on 5 May 2020, the Committee set out the principles for building a resilient recovery. In this report, it assessed the variety of measures and gathered the latest evidence in the climate policies in the economic recovery in the years to come.
This report, Reducing UK emissions, highlights five investment priorities:
Low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future. New employment opportunities and reskilling programmes are available if the government supports the national plan to renovate buildings, constructing new houses to the highest standards of efficiency of energy and water, shifting to low-carbon heat systems and protecting against overheating. Moreover, ‘green passports’ for buildings can be rolled out without delay.
Tree planting, peatland restoration, and green infrastructure. High-skilled employment is possible if the government and others invest in nature in towns and cities. This will improve people’s lives. Making the use of land will bring the benefits to the climate, biodiversity, air quality and flood prevention.
Energy networks must be strengthened. Net Zero energy transformation is needed to support electrification of transport and heating; therefore, energy networks must be strengthened. Government has the power to bring private sector investment and new hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure will create low-carbon British industries. Electrical vehicle charging points will bring the full phase out of petrol and diesel vehicles to 2032 or sooner.
Infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely. A more sustainable way for the nation can be done through safe areas for walking and cycling and support for bikes and e-scooters and more bike parking. Resilient digital technology (5G and fibre broadband) will be needed if home working should be encouraged.
Moving towards a circular economy. Increase in reuse and recycling rates while preventing biodegradable waste from going to the landfill will be achieved in the next five years. Local authorities must invest separated waste collections and recycling infrastructure in such a way that new regional jobs will be created.
Moreover, three opportunities are given here:
Reskilling and retraining programmes. The net-zero economy will require a net-zero workforce and this is the time to equip the employees with necessary skills in the UK. They will install smart low-carbon heating systems and design, manufacture and use low-carbon products and materials.
Leading a move towards positive behaviours. ‘Climate positive’ behaviours, particularly increased remote working, cycling and walking, have been emerged from the lockdown and the government has to reinforce this after the lockdown. The public sector must encourage remote-working as an example. Moreover, innovations should be carried out to deliver customer service remotely.
Targeted science and innovation funding. In the UK research and innovation are the future in low-carbon and adaptation technologies in the decades ahead. Covid-19 pandemic has taught us to understand fully the threats and learn how to manage them.
Climate and economy
Achieving UK’s climate goals while rebuilding the economy fits together naturally as one reinforces the other. The success is both.
The advice given by the CCC will provide an improved economy, better public health, improved biodiversity and access to nature, cleaner air, more comfortable homes and highly productive and rewarding employment.
Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/reducing-uk-emissions-2020-progress-report-to-parliament/
COVID-19 can be an historic turning point in tackling the global climate crisis https://www.theccc.org.uk/2020/06/25/covid-19-can-be-an-historic-turning-point-in-tackling-the-global-climate-crisis/