Pursuing net-zero could lift the UK out of the coronavirus crisis and economic slump and boost our economic and public health to protect us from future shocks, a report from the WWF has suggested.
A green recovery could create hundreds of thousands of jobs and contribute £90 billion a year to the economy, the report, produced by Vivid Economics and published yesterday, contends.
That includes £80 billion in annual co-benefits, such as improved health from better air quality, use of more active forms of travel such as walking and cycling and better quality green spaces.
Businesses will also reap up to £50 billion in yearly benefits, primarily by exporting low-carbon goods and services.
The net-zero transition could generate at least 210,000 jobs by 2030 and 351,000 by 2050, in a newly electrified auto industry, the built environment and a green energy sector. That includes 85,000 involved in constructing green buildings and 7,000 Britons employed installing zero-carbon heating and cooling systems. Electric vehicles (EVs) would support around 11,000 jobs and charging and battery technologies are expected to surge, yielding an additional 5,500 jobs.
The government has already committed to doubling offshore wind capacity, to 40GW, by the end of the decade—growth that the report suggests would create another 28,000 jobs.
However, the report says the government must carefully design policy to maximise the economic and social benefits of the transition. All government spending and taxation should be subject to a net-zero test, to ensure it support’s the country’s 2050 goal.
If delivered correctly, the “economic benefits [of reaching net-zero] will far outweigh the costs,” WWF’s climate change specialist Isabella O’Dowd said.
“Our future shouldn’t cost the earth, and it doesn’t have to. This report proves that investing in a green recovery is the only way forward –the economic benefits will far outweigh the costs. By investing in a future where we halt our contributions to the climate crisis, the UK could support at least 210,000 green jobs across the country by 2030, and bring benefits of £90bn a year to the economy,” she said.
“The pandemic has shown we need to build resilience to future crises, and we need to prepare ourselves and our economy for the big climate challenges ahead. The government must adopt a test to ensure any recovery package helps meet our commitments to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050. We have the chance to lead a global charge to protect both the planet and our economy, and we must take it.”
The government has pledged to “build back better” and Prime Minister Boris Johnson and COP26 President Alok Sharma have both publicly stated the need for a green recovery.