A green focus on how the government is going to kick start the economy in the aftermath of COVID-19 is being called for after Sky News reports carbon emissions have dropped by a third during the lockdown
It probably comes as no surprise that pollution levels have dropped since the lockdown started on 23 March. There have been numerous pictures circulating of amazing views that were once blocked out by city smog, and clear waters abundant with fish and marine life.
Figures reported by Sia Partners highlighted that the country’s daily CO2 emissions were down by 36% since the lockdown began. However, on the flip side, with more people working from home, residential emissions rose by 20%.
Chris Stark, Chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, said:
“We can’t forget about climate change”
“the sense I get from the government is that it’s still there as a priority, but naturally we have to think about how we tackle climate change now when we’re not yet fully understanding the impacts of the global and economic shutdown.”
This comes as the Scottish government has confirmed that an updated climate change action plan will be postponed until the end of the year.
Cutting emissions by 2050
The UK government previously set out plans for the country’s emissions targets before the pandemic. However, there were very few plans in place to actually achieve that, and now COVID-19 is the main focus, experts are warning that it should not be pushed aside.
In a recent letter to Boris Johnson, The Committee for Climate Change advised that after the lockdown, there should be a focus on creating low-carbon work programmes to help kick-start the economy.
“Actions towards net-zero emissions and to limit the damages from climate change will help rebuild the UK with a stronger economy and increased resilience,” wrote the committee chair, Lord Deben, and the chair of the sub-committee on adaptation, Lady Brown.
The emphasis should be on creating more ways to increase safe cycling and walking routes once people get back to work. Plus, working remotely more often could relieve some of the pressure on the ecosystem.
There are also calls for retraining programmes to ensure people can adapt to changes such as installing low-carbon heating and energy systems and providing adequate flood protection due to weather extremes.
Global lockdowns have temporarily lowered emissions but scientists say that longer-term changes needed, as 2020 could be the hottest year on record.
Green campaigners back advice and urge the government to listen
Green campaigners and activists welcome the letter from The CCC but urge the government to take it seriously.
Mike Childs, Head of Science at Friends of the Earth, said: “Improving people’s lives and saving the climate needs to be central to recovery, not rebuilding the profits of damaging industries. The right post-pandemic investment can push a big, positive, reset button on our carbon-guzzling and unsustainable economy and build a clean, healthy, and fair world.”
The letter to the Prime Minister also highlighted the UK’s influence on the world stage. It implored the government to show leadership in this area.
The UK is set to host the next UN climate talks, Cop26 next year after it was postponed due to the pandemic.