Strange bed-fellows teaming up to promote the environment.
They might not normally have much common ground, but Greenpeace and Heathrow Airport are among the organisations calling on the UK government to put the environment at the heart of a post-coronavirus economic stimulus. Greenpeace launched a manifesto outlining measures to boost clean transport and green energy this week.
It followed calls from more than 200 UK firms, including Lloyds Bank and Siemens, to make the UK’s recovery green. “Measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy have the potential to be more effective in supporting jobs and economic growth,” read a letter signed by the firms and sent to the government.
No doubt the leaders of these companies have read a study of the potential for a green recovery, based on a survey of finance ministries and central bankers, and a comparison with the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, conducted by the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern, and leading economists from Oxford University.
This concluded that a green recovery can produce higher returns on public spending and create more jobs in both the short term and the long term, compared to the alternative of pouring stimulus cash into the fossil fuel economy. After the financial crisis in 2008, calls for a green recovery were partially successful. About 16% of the global stimulus spending was green. The stimulus after Covid-19 looks like being a considerably higher percentage, and OGN Daily certainly hopes it will be.
Whilst the UK Government seems to need a shove from the private sector, just across the English Channel, the European Commission is taking a top-down approach, putting down a marker for the world with its green recovery package. It sets a high standard for other nations, using the rebuilding of economies to tackle the even greater threat of the climate emergency, in principle at least. With the world fast approaching the point when climate chaos becomes inevitable, how the trillions of recovery dollars – or euros – are spent is a use-it-or-lose-it moment, so what the EU does really matters.
We must hope that they, and the rest of the world’s nations, in turn, bear in mind the words of the EU commission president, Ursula von der Leyen: “Sooner or later we will find a vaccine for the coronavirus. But there is no vaccine for climate change. Therefore [we] need a recovery plan designed for the future.”
The EU plans to pour money into emissions-busting sectors: €91bn a year for home energy efficiency and green heating, €25bn of renewable energy, and €20bn for clean cars over two years, plus 2m charging points in five years. Up to €60bn will go to zero-emissions trains and the production of 1m tonnes of clean hydrogen is planned.