Thank you for writing to me about a green and fair recovery from the coronavirus outbreak. I have read your email carefully and noted the key points that you raise.
These have been very difficult times for the country and while it is paramount to protect jobs and the economy, I appreciate that questions are also being asked about the way the country does business in the future.
I agree that as we recover from Covid-19, the Government needs to help deliver an economy which is stronger, more sustainable and more resilient. By doing this, we will protect jobs and add many more employment opportunities. I was therefore pleased that, on 8 June, the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, announced a Green Recovery working group, one of five new ‘recovery roundtables’ bringing together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics, to unleash Britain’s growth potential and help the economy recover from the pandemic. This group will also explore how to capture any economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero emissions.
For more information please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/business-secretary-launches-working-groups-to-help-unleash-britains-growth-potential
Work on achieving this is already underway and, in the Chancellor's Summer Statement, I was pleased that he announced a £3 billion green investment package that could help support around 140,000 green jobs and upgrade buildings and reduce emissions. Furthermore, to pay for green improvements, including loft, wall and floor insultation, homeowners and landlords in England will be able to apply for vouchers from a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme this year which could save some households hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills while creating thousands of jobs for tradespeople. Finally, the Chancellor also announced a £1 billion programme aimed to make public buildings, including schools and hospitals, greener, helping the UK meet its ambitions of achieving net zero by 2050.
The UK has played a world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth, with the UK being the first country to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050, and the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions. Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while still growing the economy by more than two thirds, and we are a world-leader in offshore wind.
At the same time, the Environment Bill is being introduced to protect and improve the environment for future generations, enshrining in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets, and the first progress report of the Government’s ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan found that 90 per cent of the priority actions have been delivered or are on track for delivery.
For more details please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environment-bill-2020
Regarding cycling, the Government has pledged to build on considerable recent investments and invest an additional £2 billion in cycling and walking, and have committed to publishing both a national cycling plan and an updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. The first stage of this £2 billion investment will be a £250 million emergency active travel fund which will deliver new pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, cycle and bus-only corridors, safer junctions and wider pavements. Furthermore, a £50 'Fix Your Bike Voucher' will be introduced, which is expected to help up to half-a-million people to bring bikes out of retirement.
I appreciate your concerns about fuel poverty, and I am pleased that the Government is rightly taking steps to ensure low income, vulnerable households, including older people, are protected from living in a cold home. The Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO) and its successor will drive £6 billion of additional investment to support energy improvements in low income and vulnerable households. Since ECO launched, more than 2 million households have benefited from energy efficiency measures.
Reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change continue to be a priority for the Government. It is also vitally important that we protect jobs, the economy and people’s livelihoods as we recover from the coronavirus outbreak, and I will continue to support measures that do this in a fair and sustainable way.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking