As the government and industry make plans for economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, green investment could play a central role.
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the government's recovery plans must include fast-tracking green investment to make fast progress towards net-zero emissions while delivering sustainable jobs.
In their new proposals, called Principles for a low-carbon, sustainable and net-zero aligned economic recovery post-COVID-19, the CBI is recommending five key policy interventions designed to deliver on the growing political, business and consumer will to tackle the climate emergency.
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:
“Worldwide there is growing recognition of the moral imperative to ramp-up efforts to tackle the climate crisis. And here in the UK there’s also a strikingly clear economic rationale for making it a key plank of our post-pandemic recovery, harnessing the desire for action among business, consumers and politicians.
“Sustainable growth is the centrepiece of plans to build back better post-pandemic. So let’s start by fast-forwarding policies like a mass energy efficiency programme and building new sustainable transport infrastructure. These steps can both help to reduce emissions and provide the kind of jobs and investment stimulus the economy needs for the longer term.
“Action is needed now if we are to make a difference.”
The CBI is proposing that public spending and policy on low-carbon programmes are prioritised to deliver short-term economic and social benefits.
Prioritising these areas would also make a start towards creating a more resilient, net-zero economy.
Looking at the £9.2 billion of spending on energy efficiency promised by the Conservative party in their election manifesto, the CBI would like the government to prioritise the £3.8 billion allocated to a Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
By bringing this spending to the top of the queue, local councils and housing associations could deliver immediate employment opportunities.
The CBI says that the government should focus on programmes of energy efficiency improvements within schools that remain closed until September, taking advantage of empty buildings to carry out potentially disruptive work.
Another proposal is to prioritise a reduction in short-term unemployment by starting to retrain and reskill in high demand areas, including the low-carbon economy. Skills could be developed in areas including low-carbon heat and battery technology, which are likely to be in-demand jobs in the future.
The private sector could help to deliver on existing fiscal commitments from the Budget, to leverage investment and cut emissions.
The CBI wants the government to build on the success of its Contract for Difference auctioning programme, delivering low-cost renewable power generation, such as offshore and onshore wind and solar.
They want the government to keep in place the existing incentives for low-emissions car purchases, helping to build consumer confidence and support the sale of new vehicles.
By delivering on the £800 million Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure announced in the Budget in March, the government could boost significant short-term regional growth in those parts of the country where the sectors are based.
To help with the decarbonisation of UK road transport, the government should provide a new plan for supporting the transition to any new phase.
They want the government to publish its timeline for delivering the Future Homes Standard by 2025, and publish the Energy White Paper and National Infrastructure Strategy as soon as possible, giving industry the confidence to invest.