The Independent – UK
The government should use its post-coronavirus stimulus as an opportunity drive towards a net zero carbon economy, the UK’s climate assembly has said.
The assembly, which was established by parliament as a forum to gauge public opinion on climate change policy, called for ministers to prioritise measures like new cycle lanes and public transport investment.
Set up at the request of six parliamentary select committee it includes 108 members picked to represent the UK’s different demographics and levels of concern about climate change.
Assembly members were given a presentation by experts and are expected to produce a final report in September on their findings.
But with work still ongoing, in recent sittings held virtually because of the pandemic, 79 per cent of members strongly agreed or agree that “Steps taken by the government to help the economy recover should be designed to help achieve net zero”.
And 93 per cent of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that, “As lockdown eases, government, employers and/or others should take steps to encourage lifestyles to change to be more compatible with reaching net zero”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged to unveil a massive stimulus package next month and said he will do “whatever it takes” to get the UK out of a recession caused by the crash in economic activity during lockdown.
But the specifics of the plan are yet to be seen, with different suggestions like tax cuts competing with proposals for green investment.
Assembly member Ibrahim, a GP from Surrey, said: “The Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown have had a huge effect on the economy and lives of people. It has become important for the Government, Parliament and business organisations to strongly consider a recovery approach that will not cause further harm to the planet.
“We discussed the Coronavirus outbreak at the climate assembly and it was quite clear that many of the assembly members felt that this period should be taken as an opportunity to encourage a green economic recovery with a focus on promoting cleaner, greener lifestyles and an economy that prizes sustainability over short term benefits that would harm the planet.
“We wanted to make sure that our views were available now so that the government can incorporate them into its economic recovery plan.”
The six Select Committees that set up the assembly are Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (chaired by Darren Jones MP); Environmental Audit (chaired by Philip Dunne MP); Housing, Communities and Local Government, (chaired by Clive Betts MP); Science and Technology (chaired by Greg Clark MP); Transport (chaired by Huw Merriman MP); and Treasury (chaired by Mel Stride MP).