Published — 23 September, 2020

Green and fair recovery

Thank you for contacting me about a green and fair recovery to the Covid-19 outbreak.

These have been very difficult times for the country and while it is paramount to protect jobs and the economy, I appreciate that questions are also being asked about the way the country does business in the future.

I agree that as we recover from Covid-19, the Government needs to deliver an economy which is stronger, greener, more sustainable and more resilient.  By doing this, we will protect jobs and add many more employment opportunities.  I was therefore pleased that, on 8 June, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced a Green Recovery working group, one of five new ‘recovery roundtables’ bringing together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics, to unleash Britain’s growth potential and help the economy recover from the pandemic.  This group will explore how to capture the economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero emissions.

Work on achieving this is already underway and, in the Chancellor’s Summer Statement, I was pleased that he announced a £3 billion green investment package that could help support around 140,000 green jobs and upgrade buildings and reduce emissions.  Furthermore, to pay for green improvements, including loft, wall and floor insultation, homeowners and landlords in England will be able to apply for vouchers from a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme this year which could save some households hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills while creating thousands of jobs for tradespeople.  Finally, the Chancellor also announced a £1 billion programme aimed to make public buildings, including schools and hospitals, greener, helping the UK meet its ambitions of achieving net zero by 2050.

The UK has played a world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth, with the UK being the first country to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050, and the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions. Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds, and we are a world-leader in offshore wind.

At the same time, the Environment Bill is being introduced to protect and improve the environment for future generations, enshrining in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets, and the first progress report of the Government’s ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan found that 90 per cent of the priority actions have been delivered or are on track for delivery.

Reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change will continue to be priorities for me and my Ministerial colleagues.

I have spoken with colleagues at HM Treasury about your suggestions for the Comprehensive Spending Review taking place this year. The Integrated Review and Comprehensive Spending Reviews will conclude in the autumn, although I am regrettably not in a position to pre-empt their conclusions. I am, however, assured by my colleagues that they are aware of the policy suggestions you raised.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this very important issue.