The government has been told to accelerate investment on climate adaptation and cutting emissions to net zero in a bid to avert a “greater global crisis” in climate change.
Writing on 29 June, the Chairs of the Environmental Audit and BEIS Committees, Philip Dunne and Darren Jones, wrote to Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stressing that the UK’s post-COVID economic recovery package is an opportunity to align with the country’s climate goals. Doing so would deliver benefits that help to stimulate local economies and level up communities across the UK, while improving public health and wellbeing.
The correspondence came as the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) launched a new inquiry, Greening the post-COVID recovery. It said it had heard international post-crisis stimulus spending will likely dwarf existing spending on mitigating climate change. If recovery packages fail to align with net zero, it warned the world’s nations risk investing in carbon intensive projects and locking into high carbon pathways. It further cited the UN Environmental Programme, which has said existing commitments will only limit temperatures rises to 3.2°C by 2100 – some way above the Paris Agreement’s stipulation of limiting global warning to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
EAC Chair, Philip Dunne, said: “If there is anything positive to come out of the pandemic, it is that we wake up to the warnings that we are hearing from scientists about the urgency of acting on climate change. Many of the actions we need to make our net zero ambition a reality can be used to revive our economy, creating green jobs and generating long term cost savings. It would be a historic mistake to miss this opportunity.”