An urgent revision of planned UK infrastructure projects is needed to achieve green recovery, says a new report by the Green Alliance
In a new report published today (29 June), the think-tank Green Alliance outlines a vision for the UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic that puts people, climate and nature at its heart.
The publication, ‘Blueprint for a Resilient Economy’, includes new analysis of the latest government data showing that the UK’s infrastructure pipeline is incompatible with the government’s long-term climate targets.
The report states: “We estimate there is a gap of £14.1bn in annual public investment to 2023 in the new low carbon transport, buildings, natural capital and industry infrastructure required in the UK.
“The biggest investment gap, of £8.7bn per year, is in low carbon transport. If the government were to reallocate the average annual investment committed to new road building towards low carbon transport infrastructure, it could already close 60% of that gap.”
Long term resilience
An initial economic stimulus package is due to be announced imminently by the government. Green Alliance’s report highlights that all decisions made at this point must resist the short-sightedness of returning to business as usual and urgently prioritise the UK’s long-term resilience to future crises.
Recovery packages already put in place by the US, China, Russia and India have failed to do this, largely supporting their carbon-intensive industries, including coal mining, fossil fuel vehicle manufacturing and the oil and gas sector. The UK is in a position to avoid this path and put itself in a strong position to reap the benefits of the industries of the future.
Green Alliance’s report highlights that the pandemic has shifted priorities. It proposes that it would now make economic sense for the huge spending earmarked for new roads to be redirected instead to rebuilding a stronger, greener economy, for instance to a programme upgrading broadband coverage across the country. It points out that this strategy would also provide new, varied employment opportunities across the UK.
Green economy blueprint
Green Alliance policy adviser Joanna Furtado, said: “The UK is imminently facing public spending decisions that will shape our economy and society for decades to come. It is vital that we take account of the long term risks to the UK when doing that.
“Our report outlines a blueprint for a more resilient, fairer and greener economy, we look forward to engaging with the UK Government on how it can achieve it.”
Anthony Browne MP and chair of the All-Party Parliament Group on the Environment, commented: “There is no doubt that we stand at a crossroads in the history of our nation. With the economy facing a historic challenge over the coming weeks and months, I believe that putting climate-friendly infrastructure at the heart of the recovery efforts is vital to building a more resilient and prosperous UK.
“Today’s report shows what would be possible with leadership from the top of Government, I hope we start to see the green shoots of a low-carbon recovery in the very near future.”