This is the central message of the latest report from business and environment lobby group the Aldersgate Group which lays out what it believes should be the Government’s priorities for the first 100 days in office.

“If reducing our financial deficit is a key priority for the new Government, addressing our environmental deficit should be too,” says Aldersgate chairman Peter Young in the report’s introduction.

“Indeed the urgency is even greater as prevention is always more palatable than the cure.”

The priorities according to the group are:

  • Get the price right for carbon, as it is currently too low, too unstable and lacks credibility.
  • Don’t rely on pricing alone however, as pricing is a blunt instrument – well designed and effective regulation is also required.
  • Mobilise the finance without delay – all parties say they will create a Green Investment Bank but it needs to hap[pen fast, rather than waiting on selling off assets before making finance available.
  • Develop the industrial strategy for targeted sectors, including tax breaks for green industry and targets for job creation, manufacturing capability and export growth.
  • Improve accountability across government and more joined up thinking, rather than addressing the issues department by department. Treasury should take a greater leadership role.
  • Incorporate a lifecycle approach and look more closely at the management of resources with an eye to reducing waste.
  • Plan a just transition and be aware that the rapid decarbonisation of the economy will create losers as well as winners. Government should also bring in a street-by-street energy efficiency programme to cut carbon and tackle fuel poverty at the same time.

    Mr Young acknowledged that Government has made some heartening progress already in several areas but warned that we needed to crank up the pace of transition.

    “The storm is brewing and we are nowhere near putting a roof over our heads,” he said.

    He also said that the flattering figures from the recession, which has led to a substantial drop in carbon emissions, should not be used as an excuse for inafction.

    “No-one should use the reduced emissions caused by the recent recession as evidence of less urgency to act,” he said.

    “Quite the contrary, this is an opportunity to accelerate the transition by building new jobs and consumption habits which are sustained by realistic demands on our climate and resources.

    “Low carbon investment is still a good proposition even in financially stringent times.”

    Sam Bond

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