Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change is integral to the UK’s recovery from coronavirus.
That’s the suggestion from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which has written letters to the Prime Minister and First Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, urging them to take action on six key principles to rebuild the UK following the coronavirus pandemic whilst delivering a stronger, cleaner and more resilient economy.
It stresses climate investments must be used to support economic recovery and jobs while reducing emissions and manage the social, environmental and economic impacts of climate change and emphasises the government can “lead the way to new social norms that benefit well-being, improve productivity and reduce emissions” by adopting trends seen in the quarantine, such as increased home-working, more remote medical consultations and improved safety for cyclists.
The CCC also reaffirms the importance of tackling the wider ‘resilience deficit’ on climate change with strong policies to reduce the UK’s vulnerability to the destructive risks of climate change and enable an orderly journey towards a net zero economy.
Its letter states fairness should be embedded in society as a core principle and suggests: “The benefits of acting on climate change must be shared widely, and the costs must not burden those who are least able to pay, or whose livelihoods are most at risk as the economy changes. Lost or threatened jobs of today should be replaced by those created by the new, resilient economy.”
The Committee urges leaders and politicians to ensure recovery does not lock-in greenhouse gas emissions and warns support for carbon-intensive sectors should only happen if it is contingent on them taking real and lasting action on climate change.
Finally, it notes incentives to reduce emissions when considering tax changes must be strengthened and highlights low global oil prices currently provide an opportunity to increase carbon taxes without hurting consumers.
CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has shown the importance of planning well for the risks the country faces. Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy. The government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions.”
Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, added: “This pandemic has shown that global risks need global solutions. As President of next year’s pivotal COP26 climate summit, the UK now finds itself in a unique position to ramp-up climate action at home and supercharge the international response to climate change abroad.
“The risks we face as a globalised society are now in sharp focus – for their part, UK leaders must act decisively on a climate-resilient recovery and do so together.”