By Adam Vaughan
Around four-fifths of a citizens’ assembly on climate change in the UK wants the government’s coronavirus economic recovery measures to also help the country meet its target of slashing carbon emissions to net zero.
Further economic stimulus policies are expected from the UK government later this year, and prime minister Boris Johnson has said “we owe it to future generations to build back better”, hinting that some policies could have a green hue. Grants of £6000 for scrapping petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric ones are among the ideas that have been floated. Green groups have called for a suite of actions, from insulating homes to encouraging cycling.
There seems to be broad support for such plans, according the first report out today from the UK Climate Assembly, which was created by MPs last year. Asked if economic recovery measures should help achieve net zero, 79 per cent agreed, with 9 per cent disagreeing and the rest unsure. “Any money spent bailing out dying fossil fuel industries is money wasted on industries that won’t survive anyway,” one member wrote.
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Rebecca Willis at the University of Lancaster, UK, says the results show a “striking consensus” on the nature of any economic recovery. She says one common thread in members’ response was: “We are now in a huge process of change and previous certainties are no longer with us.”
The assembly only consists of 108 people. However, Jim Watson at the University of Sussex, UK, says its views are significant because the members are well-informed on net-zero issues after months of discussions, and were selected to be representative of UK demographics, including different levels of concern on climate change.
Of the 108 members, 92 per cent also agreed that government and employers should encourage people to make lifestyle changes – such as less business travel – to meet net zero. Only 4 per cent disagreed, with the remainder unsure. “Home working should be encouraged: saves time, less commuting; businesses having seen it is possible,” one member wrote.
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