There has been much emphasis placed by the Government over the last couple of months on how the economic recovery from COVID-19 should be a “green recovery”, yet the detail of the policy that will underpin that “green recovery” remains largely unclear.
The “green recovery” is a way to harness economic growth towards investment that is urgently needed in order that we reach the 2050 net zero carbon emissions target. However, a “green recovery” also has more immediate benefits - measures needed to reach the 2050 target will also have clear and immediate public health benefits, including an improvement in air quality, a focus on domestic energy efficiency (which could impact on levels of fuel poverty) and renewable heat and an emphasis on more sustainable and economic ways to travel.
Whilst environmental and social governance (ESG) is certainly coming to the fore more than ever before in investment decisions, if this link is to be overt and deliberate, it will need to come from Government policy and targets. These public health benefits (as well as the environmental benefits coming from a focus on a green recovery) are inherently under-valued, and will need policy support.
It is clear that the wider population is more open than ever before to making lifestyle changes, but, in order for there to be a sustained and sustainable change, we must also see strong signals from Government. The long awaited Energy White Paper is expected in the autumn, alongside a Heat Strategy and a Buildings Strategy. It is to be hoped that these policy papers (alongside recent policy developments including the announced £3 billion package to improve the energy efficiency of homes and public buildings) will herald a real policy focus on how net zero carbon emissions can be achieved.
“We’re at this very interesting point in time where you have large corporates as well as civil society, non-state actors and governments coming together and realising that, actually, a green recovery is the way forward…