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BEIS select committee warns of ‘historic mistake’ of not aligning COVID-19 recovery with net zero

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The chairs of the BEIS select committee and the Environmental Audit Committee – Darren Jones and Philip Dunne – have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to stress the need for a green economic recovery.

The letter was sent ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech today (30 June) that promised to “build back greener” but lacked in detail on any policy commitments for energy or heat.

The letter comes as the Environmental Audit Committee launches a new inquiry to monitor the government’s economic recovery packages and identify opportunities to underpin initiatives with environmental safeguarding.

It warns that the economic recovery from COVID-19 must have climate adaption and emissions reductions at its heart to help “avert an even greater future national and global crisis caused by climate change”.

It goes on to say that not aligning the COVID-19 recovery with net zero could lead to the world’s nations investing in carbon-intensive energy, transport and industrial infrastructure projects that lock in high carbon pathways for many years to come, which it said would be “a historic mistake”.

The letter highlighted the benefits to stimulating local economies and improving public health and wellbeing, as well as the positive effect on job creation investing in shovel ready projects in areas such as home energy efficiency can have.

“The decisions made in the coming months - and throughout this Parliament - on infrastructure and investment will be critical in determining whether the UK is resilient to the coming changes in the climate and can lead the world in forging an innovative net zero economy,” the letter finishes.

The BEIS select committee is due to conduct an evidence hearing on 2 July to examine the Committee on Climate Change’s Progress Report, as well as itself embarking on an inquiry on post-pandemic economic growth.

Jones, the chair of the BEIS select committee, said that he hopes the chancellor “will be bold in his investment in infrastructure and people" and demonstrate the government's commitment to tackling climate change and bolster "the UK’s credibility as a net zero leader in the run up to COP26".

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