Pop-quiz time: In 2020, what do Iain Duncan Smith, Greenpeace, McKinsey and UN Secretary-General António Guterres have in common? Straight to the answer: all have to a greater or lesser extent recently called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ‘get Britain moving’ after the Covid-19 lockdown in such a way that Britain also moves towards its legal-binding net zero emissions target. It’s not just this somewhat unlikely quartet. My colleague Kathy Grenville has been keeping tabs on precisely who’s been saying what recently. And what strikes you as you read through it is just how many individuals and organisations are plugging a ‘green’ recovery. Mark Carney, WWF, the Smith School at Oxford University… all names you might expect to see on the list. But the International Energy Agency, the CBI, Conservative Mayors Andy Street and Ben Houchen, a senior International Monetary Fund advisor, the main UK energy industry lobby group EnergyUK.
ECIU 6th July 2020 read more »
If Boris Johnson wants to permanently shift the UK on to a trajectory to meet its climate targets, he must deliver a new zero-carbon infrastructure. There’s no sign of that yet. Boris Johnson does not want a crisis to go to waste. The coronavirus-induced recession is widely accepted as an opportunity to reset and rebuild the economy to take the environmental challenge seriously. Radical green policies that once seemed impossible – such as shutting down airports and closing off roads – have been implemented overnight with public support. Now that the economy is reopening, Mr Johnson’s political goal is to produce policies that chime with the nation’s mood. He says he will “build back greener”. What Mr Johnson’s phrase means for the country will only become clear when his policies emerge. His government’s first big announcement is a small step in the right direction. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will incentivise home insulation with a £2bn grant scheme so that homeowners can decrease the amount of heat lost through roofs, walls and floors. This will bring jobs back to local economies, with companies providing a labour-intensive service in a post-Covid-19 world suffering from extremely high levels of unemployment. Only a quarter of Mr Sunak’s cash is focused on the poorest, so people wealthy enough to insulate their homes will be subsidised to do so. The scheme is just for a year, and it is unclear whether the government sees this as a down payment on a long-term programme or whether this is a one-off stimulus. The former would imply Mr Johnson is serious about the climate emergency; the latter would mean he is only interested in looking like he is serious about it. The prime minister has plans for nationwide electric vehicle charging points and to put some cash towards hydrogen production and carbon capture. But if Mr Johnson wants to permanently shift the UK on to a trajectory to meet its climate targets, he must deliver a new zero-carbon infrastructure. Without this ambition and the cash to back it up, he cannot claim to be building the UK “back greener”.
Guardian 7th July 2020 read more »
While there will be griping from the Labour benches that it does not go far enough, the principle will please almost everyone in parliament. The opposition cannot really complain about the government pressing forward with an agenda on which its own policy teams did much of the legwork, formulating the Green New Deal under Jeremy Corbyn (remember him?) and Rebecca Long Bailey. But while blue and red MPs might be equally willing to go green, there’s some evidence that voters are not on the same page. I shouldn’t play down the rise of the environment as a priority over the past ten years but it is still seen by some as a “nice-to-have” aim rather than an existential question like the NHS or the economy. The cause seems to have taken a hit since the beginning of the pandemic. Before March it was regularly named by more than 30 per cent as the most important issue facing the country, hitting 34 per cent in January. In mid-March it dropped into the low twenties and has stayed there since. Any assumption that people are willing to make the same personal sacrifices for climate change as they did for the pandemic should be treated with extreme caution, according to a recent paper published by the Social Market Foundation, which reminds us that only 35 per cent of voters are aware of the UK’s net-zero target. It doesn’t help that we are losing the chance to host the COP26 climate summit this year which would have reanimated it as a domestic debate, even if it mainly focused on whether the venue would be ready in time and whether we had prepared enough place settings.
Times 7th July 2020 read more »
Energy saving vouchers: Why the UK Government is set to give £5,000 grants to homeowners for eco-friendly insulation today. The vouchers will be made available to use on environmentally-friendly additions such as insulation, low-energy lighting, double glazing and energy-efficient doors. Greenpeace UK’s Rosie Rogers pointed to funding by other countries for a green recovery, including £36bn by the German government and £13.5bn by France, and said the UK’s £3bn “isn’t playing in the same league”. “Of course this money is better than nothing, but it doesn’t measure up to the economic and environmental crises. It’s not enough to create the hundreds of thousands of new green jobs that are needed,” she said. “It’s not enough to insulate all of the homes and buildings that need to be kept warm and more energy efficient. “It’s not enough to ‘build back greener’, and it’s certainly not enough to put us on track to tackle the catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency.”
iNews 8th July 2020 read more »