More than 200 firms have called on the UK government to prioritise the environment in the country’s economic recovery following the outbreak of coronavirus.
In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson, UK businesses including Asda and Mitsubishi called for the UK to build a “more sustainable, inclusive and resilient UK economy for the future”.
The letter said: “The current crisis, in moving us all away from business as usual, has already created shifts in how we operate, and we believe we must use the recovery to accelerate the transition to net-zero.
“Efforts to rescue and repair the economy in response to the current crisis can and should be aligned with the UK’s legislated target of net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.”
Firms called for the government to drive investment in low carbon innovation, infrastructure and industries, as well as improved resilience to future environmental risks.
“This should include a combination of targeted public investment and clear policy signals to support growing private sector investment, such as tax incentives and carbon pricing,” it said.
The letter was facilitated by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and included signatories across industry sectors, including energy, finance, consumer goods, retail, construction, water and communication. Signatories included Asda, Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric and National Grid.
Support should be focused on sectors and activities that can drive sustainable growth, increase job creation and accelerate both the recovery and the decarbonisation of the economy. This includes construction, renovation and energy efficiency, low-carbon power and mobility infrastructure, natural environmental improvements.
There must also be financial support packages measures to “ensure receiving businesses are well managed and their strategies are science-based and aligned with national climate goals”, the letter said.
Roger Burnley, CEO at Asda, said: “This crisis has upended the way we do business, even for those of us that have continued to trade, but in recovery there is always opportunity. Our new normal must be one that is more sustainable and more resilient to the challenges of climate change than before, and it is incumbent on all businesses and government to work together to make this happen.”
Deane Flint, branch president, Mitsubishi Electric Europe, added: “Despite the evident challenges that 2020 and the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 will bring to the global economy, we at Mitsubishi Electric believe that an increased focus on innovative technology is now more important than ever.
“We remain committed to not only producing products and services that work towards the government’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but through the impact of the present crisis on the UK we predict an accelerated alignment between the new normal and a shift to greener technology, the long-term opportunities of which are limitless.”
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