Key organisations and individuals from across the UK’s green economy have backed the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) latest progress report to Parliament, urging Ministers to seize the “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to create a green Covid-19 recovery.
Published today (25 June), the CCC report charts the successes (emissions from energy generation are down 67% on 2008 levels) and failures (transport emissions have risen year-on-year since the early 2010s) of the UK’s low-carbon transition to date.
Unlike previous editions of the annual report, the document also provides time-bound policy recommendations on a department-by-department basis, with all measures designed to help the UK recover from the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The national economy contracted by more than 20% in April and, as of May, more than 600,000 people had been removed from payrolls.
Since the first coronavirus lockdowns began, world leaders in all major economies have been facing calls to “build back better”, developing plans that not only kick-start the economy but also reduce social inequalities and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient system. Dozens of missives have landed on Boris Johnson’s desk in recent weeks, with specific demands relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency, nature restoration and low-carbon transport.
So, it was to be expected that key figures from businesses, NGOs, trade bodies and think-tanks would back the CCC’s overarching message and key recommendations. Here, edie rounds up the reaction to the Committee’s latest report.
Responding to the CCC’s recommendations on energy, RenewableUK’s Head of Policy and Regulation Rebecca Williams said:
“To meet net-zero and recover from Covid-19, we need to put a rocket under our economy and that rocket has to run on clean energy. The CCC is clear about the huge opportunities right across the renewable energy sector and if we can invest early in emerging technologies like floating offshore wind and renewable hydrogen, the UK can build world-leading industries. A green economic recovery after the pandemic can create tens of thousands of jobs and attract billions in investment.
“It’s good to see the CCC highlighting the Government’s upcoming White Paper on energy as an ideal opportunity to accelerate progress on electrifying and decarbonising the heat and transport sectors, as well as scaling up battery storage to provide even greater flexibility”.
WWF Scotland’s climate and energy policy manager Fabrice Leveque added:
“The Committee is right to warn that progress in Scotland is over-reliant on the electricity sector… Earlier this week, the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER) came up short in showing how climate action can support the economic recovery. The Government should heed the Committee’s advice that a transition to a low-carbon, efficient and resilient economy will bring productivity benefits throughout the economy. “
Adair Turner, senior Fellow at The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), said:
“In a world of rock-bottom interest rates, now is the time to invest in renewable energy and other key forms of green infrastructure; faced with huge employment challenges, policy must focus on creating green jobs and government support for firms should be contingent on strengthened commitments to emission reductions and avoid supporting old technologies and potentially stranded assets.”
Solar Trade Association (STA) chief executive Chris Hewett said:
“We welcome the Committee’s recognition of the valuable contribution that onshore renewables can make to a green recovery; driving decarbonisation, deploying high-quality jobs, and delivering significant economic growth.
“The Committee rightly points out that other forms of generation are more carbon-intensive and expensive too. If we are to emerge from this crisis with a renewed economy that is geared towards net-zero, the UK needs to rapidly shift to low cost, reliable, and job-intensive technologies like solar.”
Responding to the CCC’s recommendations on the built environment, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) analyst Jess Ralston said:
“For some time, it’s been obvious that the UK’s building stock is not up to the net-zero standard and during the pandemic, our homes have become more important than ever. Yet again today, the CCC’s report really highlights that we have to get a move on – as more than one house per minute will need to be retrofitted to 2050 in order to meet the UK’s climate goals.
“As well as tackling one of the trickier sectors to decarbonise, making homes energy efficient and lowering energy bills at the same time can also unlock well-paid, skilled jobs right across the country. In areas where homes have the poorest energy performance, such as those in the North and Midlands, more jobs will be created to retrofit their stock, generating a real opportunity for them to level up whilst meeting the Government’s legally binding targets.”
Responding to the CCC’s recommendations on transport, Friends of the Earth’s climate specialist Muna Suleiman said:
“According to the report, the government has made only ‘partial’ progress on transport, which is not surprising, as the Department for Transport has gone rogue on climate change. Road transport is still the largest emitting sector, so this is a priority area to make changes. Lockdown made pollution from emissions go down because we didn’t have a choice. Now we can travel again it’s up to the government to keep pollution down by giving people better choices to walk, cycle and take public transport when it’s safe to do so. It can also stop squandering tens of billions of pounds on new roads.”
Responding to the CCC’s recommendations on nature, Aldersgate Group chief executive Nick Molho said:
“The CCC hits the nail on the head today by highlighting the central importance of restoring the natural environment to help the UK adapt to climate change and deliver much needed negative emissions to get to net zero. It is absolutely vital that the work being done to drive more investment in the natural environment as part of the Agriculture and Environment Bills is accelerated and made fully consistent with delivering the UK’s climate targets.”
“A recovery where we ignore climate and nature is not a recovery at all – it is starting the timer for the next crisis,” WWF’s head of climate change Gareth Redmond-King added.
Responding to the CCC’s recommendations on resources, the Environmental Services Association’s (ESA) executive director Jacob Hayler said:
“Through its Resources & Waste Strategy and Environment Bill, the Government has already laid the groundwork for major change which will help unlock the full potential of the recycling and waste sector to deliver significant carbon reductions for the economy, but these vital policy frameworks have not yet come to fruition. They now represent a ‘quick-win’ for Government against the recommendations made by the Committee on Climate Change, but need a renewed focus and impetus to make up for time lost to the Covid-19 crisis.
“In addition to delivering carbon savings to the wider economy through our core resource-efficiency, recycling and landfill diversion activities, ESA members are also working on a Net-Zero strategy for the sector to de-carbonise operations by improving the efficiency of Energy-From-Waste infrastructure, including greater use of heat offtake; removing plastics from EfW inputs; reducing emissions from the transport of waste and secondary materials; and reducing the fossil-based energy used to power our sector’s infrastructure. But delivery of this strategy must be to pragmatic timescales and will require support – both from a policy and practical perspective – from government, local authorities, businesses and consumers.”