The UK Government launched its landmark global campaign for stimulating support for net-zero entitled the ‘Race to Zero’ on 5 June ahead of the COP26 summit due to take place in November 2021 following the postponement due to Coronavirus. Boris Johnson is also set to reveal the initial plans for the economic recovery in the next week with more detail being unveiled throughout July. The world has seen significant environmental benefits from the global restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic and there is much pressure being placed on the Government to align the economic recovery with its de-carbonisation commitments.
The launch coincided with World Environment Day, with ‘Race to Zero’ expected to secure the commitment of leadership from businesses, cities, and regions to adopt a zero-carbon recovery. The global aim is to take Net-zero targets and build more ambitious National Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement which will be delivered to the COP-26. The campaigned is being led by the UK and Chile with the aim of delivering the largest global coalition of climate leaders in United Nations’ history – the Climate Ambition Alliance.
The Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary, Alok Sharma, announced that more than 1,000 businesses, more than 500 universities and nearly 500 cities and regions are now Climate Ambition Alliance members, along with 120 countries and 36 major investors. This incorporates around a quarter of global annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Whilst this is a major step forward, Sharma acknowledged that there is a need to unite behind a green global recovery from the socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past weeks there have been several indications from the UK Government of the intention to align the recovery with environmental targets. Boris Johnson committed to policies to boost the manufacture of low-carbon goods and to de-carbonise the nation’s most-emitting sectors as part of the Government’s recovery strategy. He has previously pledged support for emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), tree planting, plastics recycling, and new low-carbon housing. It is anticipated that the action will begin with electric vehicle (EV) networks and chargers alongside major transport strategies.
The Prime Minister has said that efforts to create a fairer, greener, and more resilient global economy after Covid-19 should be focused on working together to get shared goals back on track. There are reports that the next Budget will support additional measures to create a green industrial revolution, led by workers who have lost their jobs in recent months. There is speculation that the Chancellor will launch a dedicated fund for re-skilling British workers for employment in the renewable energy, clean technologies and built environment sectors. The aim is to achieve a two million “green-collar” workforce in the UK by 2030.
With the world focus on the UK, as hosts of COP-26 in November 2021, our Government has the stage on which to achieve sustainable and significant change to the climate crisis. With the UK Government shining a leading light on the opportunities to rebuild the global economy delivering significant benefits for the environment, it only remains to be seen if they will deliver against its pledges.