The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has joined calls for a green UK recovery from COVID-19.
Director-general Carolyn Fairbairn has sent the Prime Minister Boris Johnson a letter detailing what the focus of the government’s recovery plans should be on, highlighting investing in the green economy as one of three key areas.
There should be a national programme to make every home a green home that starts with social housing, Fairbairn said. This should include the retrofitting of all homes with a high standard of energy efficiency, as well as laying the foundations for low-carbon heat.
Funds committed to green infrastructure such as electric vehicle (EV) charging points should be brought forward, with deployment sped up through fast-track planning.
The government should also support further business investment in low carbon infrastructure projects such as renewables, including both onshore and offshore wind, nuclear and energy from waste sites, as well as investment in a flexible energy system.
“Amidst all the uncertainty, one thing is clear: the UK will only build back fast and better through a market-driven plan that supports sustainable growth. Dynamic enterprise is the only way to unleash the potential of our country and get ahead,” Fairbairn wrote in her letter.
Other recommendations made include extending business rates relief to mid-sized business in all sectors to reduce fixed costs and an end-to-end review of regulation to accelerate “key projects”.
Unemployment is the “biggest threat to livelihoods”, the CBI said, with the recommendations designed to secure a jobs-rich, fair and sustainable future for the UK economy.
A future skills fund should also be introduced as part of this to support areas with high job potential such as digital, low carbon and health sectors. Greater flexibility into the apprenticeship levy to help school and college leavers get into work was also suggested.
“Redundancies will rise fast over the autumn as support schemes, especially the Jobs Retention Scheme, wind down. Past recessions show the impact of joblessness is deeply uneven.
“Without immediate intervention, pre-crisis inequalities across regions, gender and race will worsen. Long term unemployment will leave generational scars. And business investment will need to bounce back fast to create the jobs of the future,” Fairbairn wrote.
Talking of the recommendations, she added: “Above all, the plan outlines a new, collaborative and innovative way of working between business and government to ensure that the UK truly builds back better.”
The government has made moves towards a green recovery, announcing that energy secretary Alok Sharma is to chair a roundtable exploring a green recovery with a focus on seizing economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero.
This follows a number of other calls for a recovery that has decarbonisation at its heart, including from the Committee on Climate Change and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
These calls are also increasingly coming from businesses, with 200 business leaders writing a letter to the Prime Minister and a global campaign asking for a zero carbon recovery launched that brought together 449 cities, 21 regions, 992 businesses and 38 investors.
Recommendations were also made from thinktank IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission, stating that at least £30 billion should be invested by the government into a green recovery with “shovel-ready” green projects a priority.