Moments of crisis are often opportunities for change. They force us to think about what is most important, interrupt the status quo and crack open new possibilities. Several campaigns have called for Britain to take the opportunity to ‘build back better‘ from the current crisis of COVID-19, and as we have been highlighting, some nations have chosen to do just that already in a variety of ways.
The latest initiative to seize the moment is the Climate Coalition. With the British government due to announce its own plan to reduce emissions in line with its climate commitments, the alliance has developed a list of 10 points for a Green Recovery. These would be steps to address the climate emergency while also rebuilding the economy after the impact of Coronavirus.
Green Christian is a member of the Climate Coalition, so it is a project that we want to support through Joy in Enough. You can support it too, by signing the coalition’s declaration that “the time is now to lead the UK towards a healthier, greener, fairer future.” You can sign it as an individual or as a community, so this is something you might want to consider as a church – you can sign it here.
You can read the ten point plan here, or it is summarised below.
- Submit a pledge to the Paris Agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, countries agree a ‘nationally determined contribution’ to reducing global emissions, and then update them over time. Submitting an ambitious and rigorous NDC is an important form of global leadership, which Britain should be modelling as the host of the next international climate conference, COP 26.
- Invest in Green Homes. 40% of UK emissions come from households, with heating being the made contributor. A national scheme to improve efficiency and install low-carbon heating should be a major priority. This was in the Conservative manifesto in the general election, so it should not be a controversial ask.
- 100% clean energy. Good progress has been made already, so it is a matter of completing the transition of Britain’s electricity from fossil fuels to clean power. Obstacles to onshore wind should be removed, and there should be support for community energy.
- Low carbon transport. The government had initially announced that petrol and diesel cars would no longer be sold from 2040, then moved the date to 2035 this year. 2030 is entirely possible and the Climate Coalition call for more ambition, along with promoting walking and cycling, better bus travel and electrification of trains and buses.
- Restore the natural world. Britain is one of the most nature-depleted places on earth, and a green recovery should include deliberate steps to restore ecosystems and rebuild biodiversity. That includes creating marine reserves, reforestation, restoring peatlands and wetlands, and reducing fertiliser and pesticide use.
- Finance the transition. None of this will pay for itself up-front, so the government should set up a Climate Infrastructure Bank to provide funding for the transition to a low carbon economy. There should also be steps to ensure that the banking sector is investing in line with climate targets.
- Establish a net zero test. The measures of progress that we choose will shape our view of success, so the coalition recommends that the Treasury introduce a test to make sure that all government spending and taxation supports the net zero target.
- Stop funding fossil fuels overseas. UK banks and overseas aid still supports fossil fuels, which means that emission cuts at home are constantly undone by new emissions elsewhere. Funding should be redirected to renewable energy instead.
- Provide climate finance. Britain is a historically significant emitter, having started out on the industrial revolution earlier than most. One way to take responsibility for this contribution to global emissions is to provide support for others, particularly more vulnerable countries, to adapt to a changing climate.
- Support global ecosystem restoration. While there is plenty that can be done to steward Britain’s own environment, as point 5 highlights, there are things that can be done internationally too. That includes support for global treaties, or higher environmental standards for the products that we import.