A new report has found that the UK public would support the government pursuing a green recovery for the economy once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
Many people would also be happy to tackle the climate crisis by sustaining the lifestyle changes that have been made as a result of the lockdown. Popular changes include alterations to how people travel, as well as working from home.
The report comes from Climate Assembly UK - a group of 108 members of the public selected to best represent the views of the UK populace. The group’s views and opinions are being used to help mould future climate policy via discussions about how to best reach the government’s net-zero target by 2050.
The findings of the report have been used to urge the government to reassess its investment strategy in order to support industries that have a lower carbon impact.
Almost 80% of assembly members agreed that the decisions made by the government for the recovery of the economy post-coronavirus should help the country reach net-zero by 2050.
Over 90% of the assembly also said that the government and employers should support lifestyle changes in order to cut emissions as the lockdown is gradually lifted.
One assembly member, Ibrahim from Surrey, said: “It was quite clear that many of the assembly members felt this period should be taken as an opportunity to encourage a green economic recovery with a focus on promoting cleaner, greener lifestyles, and an economy that prizes sustainability over short-term benefits that would harm the planet.”
Another member added: “It would be too easy to just carry on as before and take advantage of cheap oil and other special offers, [such as] cheap travel, cheap clothes, factories turning out cheap goods, to get the economy going. We need incentives to reduce emissions … and penalties for people who do not consider the environment when building or rebuilding businesses.”
A joint letter from the chairs of the six select committees of MPs who commissioned the Climate Assembly was sent to Boris Johnson urging him to consider how the coronavirus crisis may have made the public more open to the government pursuing greener initiatives.
“In recent months, the UK public has demonstrated its capacity to respond positively and responsibly when they understand the risks posed to them by an invisible threat that demands collective action. We believe that a similar approach, based on securing public support for ambitious policies through open dialogue around the science, is a sound basis for the net zero journey,” they told the prime minister in the letter.
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