MPs call for Just Transition Fund to spur green recovery towards net-zero
A commission of cross-party MPs has added to the calls for the UK to prioritise and deliver a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that £30bn should be spent on a climate-focused recovery that also establishes a £5bn national Just Transition Fund.
The IPPR Environmental Justice Commission published recommendations this morning (27 May), calling on the UK Government to “go faster, further and fairer” to deliver a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Commission has been set up to explore the net-zero transition in the UK. Notably, it is focused on how the transition could improve societal and environmental issues, such as the protection of nature and improving wellbeing for citizens. The co-chairs of the commission are Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Laura Sandys, a former Conservative MP.
The Commission warns that failing to move quickly and raise climate ambitions could lead to the UK missing its net-zero target while worsening existing inequalities as the Government tries to spur an economic recovery. Doing so would enable the creation of “hundreds of thousands of new jobs” as part of a green recovery package focused on the net-zero goal.
Co-chair Caroline Lucas said: “The good news is that decarbonising our economy and restoring nature offers us a vital opportunity to fix an economic model that is not only driving environmental destruction, but also failing the vast majority of people across the UK, as the fall-out from Covid-19 has so brutally exposed.
"We can build back better – but only if we embed an agenda of rapid decarbonisation within a broader social and economic justice agenda, and ensure that those communities most affected by change have the power to lead and shape it.”
Specifically, the report calls on the UK to step up short-term efforts to decarbonise, noting that the UK was on course to miss its fifth carbon budget for 2028-2032 – a target that is currently based on an outdated 80% ambition rather than the new net-zero goal. The Commission argues that rapid decarbonisation should be prioritised over the next decade to put the UK onto a net-zero trajectory.
To do so, the Commission has called for “at least £30bn” to be invested to support the green recovery from the pandemic and help set up the net-zero transition by supporting “shovel-ready” green projects that will generate most jobs.
Another key ask from the MPs is the creation of a “Net Zero and Just Transition” delivery body that would oversee how the net-zero transition would benefit all areas and locations covered by the UK economy. The body should be supported by £5bn in investment to support region, with the IPPR noting that two-thirds of the UK’s 460,000 green jobs are located outside London and the South East.
Last year, a coalition of trade unions urged the UK Government to create a cross-party commission focused on ensuring that the transition to net-zero by 2050 is socially and economically "just".
The Commission is also calling for the Government to account for “consumption emissions” – emissions associated with the supply to UK imports. The UK's total carbon footprint - a term used to cover consumption-related emissions wherever in the world they occur - fell by 21% between 2007 and 2017. However, the UK’s consumption emissions were just 0.2% higher than the territorial emissions used in national accounting in the 1970s, compared to 37% higher today.
A target for the damage caused by the UK to nature, air, water and soil at home and abroad should also be set and enshrined into the Environment Bill. This would require all businesses to assess and report their impacts across their supply chains
Co-chair Laura Sandys said: “A new and green economy that is fit for the future is a real possibility if only we can grasp it quickly. At its heart will be promotion of citizens’ health and wellbeing, building strong and future-facing businesses with secure jobs and vibrant communities.
“With a powerful vision, plan of action and Net Zero “compliant” investment we can capture the health, quality of life, and the positive economic impacts of this transformation, delivering all cleaner air, warmer homes, access to open spaces, and healthy diets. It’s a tantalising and enticing prospect that should inspire people to seek the change.”