From the start of June, the Government has reduced the impacts of lockdown. Can we get safely back to work on a low carbon UK?
Whilst many within the sector would no doubt love to move the conversation on, today’s reality is that Covid-19 continues to dominate both UK and global affairs.
From June 1, the Government has allowed children back to school, a major change that potentially allows a wider return to work for parents.
This does not come without its caveats. Many fear the Government is acting recklessly and tempting in a further wave of infections.
The BBC commented: ‘From Monday in England primary schools will start to reopen and people can meet in groups of up to six.
‘On Thursday [May 28], Boris Johnson confirmed the relaxing of lockdown. At the same televised briefing, the PM’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, warned there was “not a lot of room” for manoeuvre and the data “urges caution”.
‘This is largely a disagreement about “when” to start lifting lockdown rather than “how”. If you go early then we all get a bit of our lives back sooner, but it means we will stay close to that 8,000 cases a day figure and have less time to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed if a second wave comes.
‘If you wait longer, then cases are much lower and the virus easier to control, the price is keeping lockdown and all the pain it is causing.’
“This is all uncharted territory,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys. “The low carbon sector urgently wants to pace up our crucial work, but it’s also essential we maintain public safety.
“We must observe with caution and see what the data in the coming days and weeks reveals.”
And the rest of this month’s news…
UK manufacturers boosting profits by focusing on energy efficiency
EDIE writes that a new research report, delivered by the manufacturer association Make UK and energy firm E.ON has revealed that those prioritising sustainable practices have reported boosted profits and performance.
Almost 50% of manufacturers see the Net Zero transition as a business opportunity and will be looking to prioritise low carbon practices to stimulate their own performance.
E.ON and Make UK believe that sustainability and energy efficiency can be a focal point for manufacturers as part of a wider green recovery. 30% of manufacturers had been focusing heavily on energy efficiency investments over the last year.
And 65% had rolled out behaviour change programmes and activities to encourage employees to improve energy efficiency. But manufacturers identified costs of technology and complexity in accessing Government funding and grants as deterrents to improving energy efficiency further.
E.ON UK’s Chief Executive Michael Lewis added; “The UK’s Net Zero target remains the key challenge for our future. It is heartening to see from this research that awareness of Net Zero is high and that manufacturers are investing in energy efficiency and seeing the commercial benefits.”
Over 200 British firms urge government to align economic recovery with Net Zero climate goal
Business Green is reporting that more than 200 leading UK companies, investors, and organisations have jointly called for a green coronavirus recovery plan.
The big names include Coca-Cola European Partners, BT, BNP Paribas, Aviva, ASDA, HSBC, IKEA, Lloyds Banking Group, National Grid, E.ON, PwC, Severn Trent, Sky, Unilever, Siemens, and Britvic.
They are calling for a ‘clean, just recovery that creates quality employment and builds a more sustainable inclusive and resilient UK economy, backed by a plan from the government to drive investment in low carbon innovation, infrastructure, and industries.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week promised to bring an economic recovery plan to Parliament before the summer recess, and on Thursday he argued that “we owe it to future generations to build back better” and engineer a green recovery.
Further, Business Green notes the government is considering publishing its long-delayed national infrastructure strategy, setting out plans for £100bn of capital spending over the course of the Parliament.
The National Infrastructure Commission has recommended the government’s strategy should include an expanded national energy efficiency programme, among other green measures.
‘Covid-19 has given us the chance to build a low carbon future,’ writes Christiana Figueres in The Guardian. She was Head of the UN Climate Change Convention that achieved the Paris agreement in 2015.
‘Greenhouse gas emissions will likely drop by an unprecedented 8% this year. Nature has clearly benefited from several months of dramatically reduced economic activity. From a climate crisis perspective, this drop in emissions is astonishingly close to the 7.6% yearly reduction in emissions that scientists have advised will be necessary during the next decade.
‘In the midst of the crisis wreaked by the pandemic is an opportunity: to ensure rescue packages don’t merely recover the high carbon economy of yesterday, but help us build a healthier economy that is low on carbon, high in resilience and centred on human wellbeing.’
“At Energys, we thoroughly endorse viewpoints both from the ex-UN Head and UK firms to use this unprecedented crisis to re jig national and global economies,” comments Kevin Cox.
“She writes that the International Energy Agency will publish a report this month detailing policies that governments could adopt to chart the course of recovery while decarbonising their economies.
“Let us follow this new path into a braver, lower carbon world, seeking some positivity from the real suffering we have all been living through.”