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Green campaigners unite to urge the UK to forge a ‘green’ economic recovery

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A coalition of major climate bodies has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealing for a “green recovery” from the economic damage inflicted by coronavirus.

The Climate Coalition, which is composed of more than 50 leading charities including WWF, Oxfam and the Women’s Institute, said that we are now at a “crucial juncture” for retooling the economy to be aligned with promises made in the Paris Agreement to minimise the rise in global temperature to just 1.5°C above pre-industrial times.

The letter appeals for a transition to clean energy and for private and public funds to be invested in initiatives designed to realise a carbon-free future for the UK.

“The degradation of the natural world is both increasing pandemic risk and driving climate change,” the letter reads. “Restoring nature and robust environmental protection will help build resilience and reduce the risk of future global health and economic shocks.”

The letter makes a number of recommendations on how to proceed once economic activity starts up again.

It proposes a mass reskilling of the population in areas such as renewable energy and zero carbon infrastructure, which has the potential to create 100,000 new jobs.

They also want to create a Climate Infrastructure Bank that would help local authorities invest in low-carbon programmes and ensure that all future bailouts of businesses are conditional on plans to reduce their environmental impact.

The Coalition appeals to the Government to set up a committee led by a minister that will work with them on how to implement the suggestions.

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: “We know a green recovery makes economic sense and is supported here in the UK and overseas by leading businesses, academics, ministers and health representatives.

“What we urgently need to see now, and post-pandemic, is commitment from Government on turning this into action.”

Christine Allen, director at aid agency Cafod, said: “Ministers have said a lot about drawing up recovery plans which recognise that helping the economy means creating green jobs and investing in measures to protect our common home. Now we need the Prime Minister to turn words into actions.

“As we emerge from this crisis, we must put in place the policies to halt the climate crisis, as well as cancel debt payments for the world’s poorest countries as they deal with the effects of both of these emergencies.”

Last week, a report suggested that a broad programme of upgrading homes to make them more energy efficient would help the UK to escape the post-coronavirus slump while helping it to meet carbon targets.  

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