UK Parliament declared a Climate Emergency on 1 May 2019, but our emissions reduction efforts have so far fallen dangerously short.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted both the power of Government to make rapid changes to protect people, and the extreme costs of delay.
The economic lockdown, while painful for so many, has resulted in a significant cut in emissions.
We must rebuild from the Coronavirus tragedy with the economic and social renewal mapped out by the cross-party Green New Deal Bill.
The Government is committed to a green, resilient recovery from COVID-19 and has already made announcements to demonstrate this commitment including a £3bn investment in building energy efficiency.
The UK has led the world in tackling climate change – since 1990, we have cut emissions by 43% while growing the economy by 75%, we were the first major economy to set a net zero target in legislation, and will host the crucial COP26 talks in November 2021.
As the Prime Minister set out in his speech on 30 June, the Government intends to build back better, build back greener, and build back faster – enabling us to deliver a UK economy which is greener, more sustainable, and more resilient. Whilst it is clear that the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 is likely to have an impact on emissions both domestically and globally, it does not change the nature of the net zero challenge and the need to transform the UK economy over the next three decades to end our contribution to climate change. Many of the actions the UK needs to take to reach its climate target of net zero can also support the economy to recover from COVID-19.
In his Economy Speech on 30 June, the Prime Minister announced a number of initiatives that will contribute towards a green recovery, including:
Up to £100 million of new funding for research and develop a brand-new clean technology, Direct Air Capture (DAC), which captures CO2 emissions directly from the air around us; and
A new £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund to kick start a programme of nature-based projects aimed at addressing the twin challenges of halting biodiversity loss and tackling climate change, while creating job.
At the Summer Economic Statement, the Chancellor announced further measures to support a green recovery, including £3 billion of new investment to support up to 130,000 green jobs and upgrade buildings. This included:
A £2 billion ‘Green Homes Grant’ to help people improve the efficiency of their homes and accelerate progress towards net zero, while supporting jobs and reducing energy bills to help tackle fuel poverty;
A £1 billion investment over the next year in a new Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to upgrade public sector buildings, including schools and hospitals, making them fit to help meet net zero through improved energy efficiency and low carbon heating; and
£50 million to demonstrate innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale to start the decarbonisation of social housing over 20/21.
These announcements build on others made this year, including support for low carbon industries announced through the Spring Budget, reflecting the Government’s commitment to reach the net zero ambition whilst creating green jobs and growing the economy as we recover from the pandemic. The Government will continue to set out further measures as part of its green agenda in the run up to COP26 in November 2021, including through the publication of an Energy White Paper and a National Infrastructure Strategy later in 2020.
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy