The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says that ministers must seize the opportunity to tackle climate change by implementing adequate schemes in the governments COVID-19 economic recovery scheme.
In its annual report to Parliament, the Committee presents new advice to the Government on delivering an economic recovery that accelerates the transition to a cleaner, net-zero emissions economy while strengthening the country's resilience to the impacts of climate change.
For the first time, the Committee sets out its recommendations for each government department, ensuring that if done accordingly, these steps will propel the UK towards more rapid climate progress. In doing so, the country would be viewed as an international climate leader ahead of the pivotal COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.
CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: "The UK is facing its biggest economic shock for a generation. Meanwhile, the global crisis of climate change is accelerating. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address these urgent challenges together; it is there for the taking. The steps that the UK takes to rebuild from the COVI-19 pandemic can accelerate the transition to a successful and low-carbon economy and improve our climate resilience. Choices that lock in emissions or climate risks are unacceptable."
Chair of the CCC's Adaptation Committee, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, said: "COVID-19 has shown that planning for systemic risks is unavoidable. We have warned repeatedly that the UK is poorly prepared for the very serious impacts of climate change, including flooding, overheating and water shortages. Now is the moment to get our house in order, coordinate national planning, and prepare for the inevitable changes ahead. The UK's domestic ambition can be the basis for strong international climate leadership, but the delivery of effective new policies must accelerate dramatically if we're to seize this chance."
This new analysis expands on the CCC's May 2020 advice to the Prime Minister in which it set out the principles for building a resilient recovery.
In its new report, the Committee has assessed a wide set of measures and gathered the latest evidence on the role of climate policies in the economic recovery.
Five investment priorities are highlighted in the report including: low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future; tree planting, peatland restoration, and green infrastructure; strengthening energy networks for net-zero energy; infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle and work remotely; moving towards a circular economy.
The report also includes opportunities to support the economic transition and recovery towards net-zero by investing in the UK's workforce, and in lower-carbon behaviours and innovation.
Such initiatives include reskilling and retraining programmes, leading a move towards 'climate-positive' behaviours that have emerged during lockdown, and targeted science and innovation funding to kick-start research in low-carbon and adaptation technologies to facilitate the changes needed to build the UK's competitive advantage in green energy.
The actions recommended by the CCC can deliver an improved economy, better public health, improved biodiversity and access to nature, cleaner air, more comfortable homes and highly productive and rewarding employment.