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Remembering the UK’s net-zero target during the Covid-19 pandemic

08 May 2020

In the midst of the immediate Covid-19 pandemic, it is pleasing to see that the climate emergency is not being forgotten says ICE Policy Manager Alex Hardy.

Remembering the UK’s net-zero target during the Covid-19 pandemic
Keeping on track for Net-Zero.

This week the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) set out six key principles to rebuild the nation following the Covid-19 pandemic whilst delivering a stronger, cleaner and more resilient economy.

The CCC called on governments throughout the UK to:

  1. Use climate investments to support the economic recovery and jobs.
  2. Lead a shift towards positive long-term behaviours.
  3. Tackle the wider ‘resilience deficit’ on climate change.
  4. Embed fairness as a core principle.
  5. Ensure the recovery does not ‘lock-in’ greenhouse gas emissions or increased climate risk.
  6. Strengthen incentives to reduce emissions when considering fiscal changes.

The CCC says reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change should be integral to the UK’s overall approach to rebuilding after the Covid-19 crisis.

This follows recent research from the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, which demonstrates that green Covid-19 recovery packages will boost economic growth and stop climate change.

According to leading economists, long-term, climate-friendly stimulus policies are often superior in overall economic impact – not just in slowing global warming.

The economists found that green projects create more jobs, deliver higher short-term returns per pound spend and lead to increased long-term cost savings, by comparison with traditional fiscal stimulus.

Addressing net-zero

Similarly, this week the National Infrastructure Commission also released an analysis of its existing recommendations made in its first National Infrastructure Assessment to check their compatibility with the net-zero agenda.

The analysis found that they are aligned with the 2050 net-zero emission target, although some have now become more urgent.

Finally, this week the Royal Academy of Engineering’s National Engineering Policy Centre has also released details of a de-carbonisation project which explores the systems implications of the transition to net-zero.

This project will emphasise a whole-of-systems approach to net-zero and the important role engineers must play in achieving the target.

An infrastructure policy response

ICE welcomes the important work that is being done by these organisations to progress the net-zero agenda, even while we are faced with the immediate challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This work demonstrates the key role infrastructure must play in rebuilding the UK’s economy in a way that is consistent with the net-zero target.

Like so many other organisations, ICE continues its work developing infrastructure policy in response to both the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2050 net-zero target.

This year's State of the Nation report will be published on 1 July 2020. The report will examine the contribution of the UK’s infrastructure systems in achieving net-zero by 2050.

Building on the work of the CCC, our report will recommend a series of policy recommendations designed to overcome the challenges infrastructure faces in transitioning to a net-zero footing.

The release of our State of the Nation report comes at a vital time for government as it considers an economic recovery from Covid-19 that is consistent with the net zero target and supports the UK’s contribution to mitigating climate change.

In case you missed it...

Keep up to date with the development of State of the Nation 2020: Infrastructure and the 2050 Net-Zero Target

  • Alex Hardy, policy manager at ICE