Make COVID-19 historic turning point on climate crisis, government urged

Ministers mustn't continue to overlook transport sector's huge impact, says Friends of the Earth
  Published:  25 Jun 2020    |      2 minute read

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says today that the aftermath of COVID-19 can be an historic turning point if Ministers take the lead by turning the crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change. In this annual report to Parliament the committee's scorecard shows that the government’s performance leaves a lot to be desired.

Friends of the Earth conclude that the Committee has assessed many measures, but most glaringly, transport is the sector with the most potential to cut emissions and is historically over-looked by government because of the nation’s car reliance.

Commenting for Friends of the Earth, Muna Suleiman, climate specialist, said:

“The UK government can’t be viewed as anything like the climate leader it wants to be until the measures in this report are introduced. It’s a tale as old as time, recommendations are very different from implementation.

“According to the report the government has made only ‘partial’ progress on transport, which is not surprising, as the Department for Transport has gone rogue on climate change.

"Road transport is still the largest emitting sector, so this is a priority area to make changes. Lockdown made pollution from emissions go down, because we didn’t have a choice. Now we can travel again it’s up to government to keep pollution down by giving people better choices to walk, cycle and take public transport when it’s safe to do so. It can also stop squandering tens of billions of pounds on new roads.

“As lockdown starts to ease this report arrives just in time for government to adopt all of the recommendations. We should be inspired by what a green and fair COVID recovery can do for everyone. The Chancellor’s speech in early July is the next opportunity for the government to show that they get it.”

Friends of the Earth says steps recommended by the CCC will deliver an improved economy, better public health, improved biodiversity and access to nature, cleaner air, more comfortable homes, but only if the government acts on them.

To build back better we need to go beyond immediate actions with a plan that safeguards us well into the future. Climate investment will help create jobs, stimulate economic recovery, and drive down UK emissions. There are clear economic, social, and environmental benefits from supporting people to live differently by investing in walking, cycling, public transport and remote working.