Decarbonisation should be the focus of the COVID-19 recovery, a letter signed by over 200 business leaders has said.
The letter, sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calls for a clear vision for recovery efforts that align with the UK’s wider social, environmental and climate goals.
Government recovery efforts should drive investment in low carbon innovation, infrastructure and industries, the letter states. A combination of targeted public investment and clear policy signals such as carbon pricing and tax incentives should be included in this, which would help support private sector investment.
The letter has been signed by businesses such as National Grid, the Aldersgate Group, E.On, EDF, Engie, PwC, ScottishPower, Shell, SSE and a number of others totaling over 200.
It outlines how support should be prioritised for the sectors and activities that “best support sustainable growth", as well as increased job creation. It should also be focused on the acceleration of the decarbonisation and recovery of the economy.
It then goes on to gives examples of low carbon-power and mobility infrastructure as areas to be targeted for such support, alongside a number of other areas that have the potential to bring investment and job creation across multiple regions of the UK.
Commenting on this, John Pettigrew, CEO of National Grid, said it has estimated that "hundreds of thousands of new recruits" will be needed in the energy sector alone as it moves towards net zero, adding that National Grid believes "that an economic recovery with climate action at its heart will be key to unlocking these opportunities".
The letter also suggests that the Prime Minister should ensure recovery efforts include financial support package measures for well managed businesses, with strategies that are science based and aligned with national climate goals.
"Efforts to rescue and repair the economy in response to the current crisis can and should be aligned with the UK’s legislated target of net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest," the letter states.
Calls for a green recovery are increasing, with thinktank IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission last week suggesting that the government should invest at least £30 billion into a green recovery, starting with “shovel ready” projects.
This echoes calls by the Committee on Climate Change for low carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure to be at the heart of the government’s approach to rebuilding the UK after COVID-19.
Likewise, the New Economics Foundation recommended in January that the government should invest 2-3% of GDP into green projects in the event of a recession, which it predicted had a 30-40% chance of occurring in the following months. It also recommended that the government identify a pipeline of "shovel ready" projects.