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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

8 July 2020 – Eliot Whittington, Director of The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group responds to the UK Treasury's Summer Statement.

Responding to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Summer Economic Statement, Eliot Whittington, Director, The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group said: 

"The Chancellor has set out a significant package of announcements to give the economy much needed reinforcement and to protect and grow UK employment. As he acknowledges, these steps must be the first bricks in a long-term recovery plan designed to start rebuilding the economy in a stronger, more resilient form, better positioned for competitive zero carbon future.  

"Research shows that delivering a stronger, cleaner economy will deliver the quality jobs needed to ensure real levelling up can begin. There is also evidence the transition to a decarbonised labour market can defend our economy from further shocks that will come with future pandemics and climate impacts. Of course, if the Government is to live up to its own words about the significance of the net zero target, then its implications need to be increasingly mainstreamed across all Government recovery measures. We need to make sure that the skills and training young people get are for the jobs the UK will need to grow, and that new jobs created have a long-term sustainable future. We need to build infrastructure required for new low-carbon industries and ways of living, not waste money on outdated approaches.

"The specific climate and environment initiatives announced by the Chancellor are welcome and the speed of delivery is an acceleration in the right direction, but these good steps need to be put inside a recovery plan that has a clear vision for a thriving net zero UK economy at its heart. By the Autumn Budget we need to see a clear strategy that gets Britain back to work, gives business the confidence to invest in a resilient, zero carbon future and shows our peers around the world what leadership looks like."

On the Green Homes Grant and investment in improving buildings energy efficiency:

"Cutting heat loss from homes and public buildings saves money, creates jobs, improves quality of life and is key to the delivery of the UK’s net zero emissions target. The Chancellor's announcement is a welcome step and in line with recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change, as long as it has a legacy beyond the year of its initial operation. 

"These measures need to be part of a longer-term strategy of support to bring all households up to a minimum high level of efficiency standard by 2030 and those eligible to claim the Green Homes Grant need to be supported to do so. The previous energy efficiency Green Deal initiative failed to gain significant pick up from homeowners and the Government needs to support public understanding and commitment to behaviour changes in order to make this deliver green benefits at the scale needed to significantly decrease the UK's carbon emissions." 

On the Green Jobs Challenge Fund:

"It’s great to see much needed government investment into biodiversity projects, a vital recognition of the necessity and economic opportunity of tackling climate and nature issues together. The pandemic has shown us how interconnected so many of our present and future challenges are, and to separate out restoring the environment from climate change will get us to the solutions more slowly, and much less comprehensively. The upcoming Environment and Agriculture Bills offer the perfect vehicle to build on this and create a substantive and significant change in approach to protect and restore the UK’s environment.”