Ahead of Boris Johnson's speech on the government's economic stimulus plans, MPs will today take part in over 100 digital meetings with constituents to discuss the green recovery
MPs from across the political spectrum will today take part in over 100 digital meetings with constituents to discuss plans for a green recovery, as part of the world's biggest virtual lobby.
The Time is Now campaign, which last year organised a mass lobby event that saw constituents from across the UK travel to Westminster to lobby their MPs on the need to step up the UK's response to the 'climate emergency', has co-ordinated a virtual update to the 2019 event that allows constituents to talk to MPs without jeopardising social distancing guidelines.
It comes on the same day as a major new report from Greenpeace estimated that an ambitious green stimulus package could create 1.8 million new jobs while reviving the economy.
More than 11,000 people from across the UK signed up to take part in the virtual meetings, which have been organised by the The Climate Coalition group of leading green NGOs. Hundreds of constituents are now set to engage with MPs and call on them to back proposals for a recovery package that "unleashes investment in climate and nature-friendly infrastructure, creating green jobs and supporting millions out of the recession".
The move comes on the same day as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to deliver a speech providing further details on the government's economic stimulus plans, which Ministers have previously signalled will be focused on driving a 'green recovery'.
"We don't want to get back to ‘normal', because it was abjectly abnormal," said Chris Packham, TV presenter, conservationist, and RSPB vice president. "We don't want business as usual because it was bad business. And our essential response to COVID-19 has proven that everyone, the entire world, can make changes when it needs to - and it needs to now. This tragedy has given us pause for thought and it's clear that people have heeded its ominous warning and want to rebuild their lives with a properly sustainable environment and secure future."
The group also published the results of a new Opinium survey of just over 2,000 adults, which further reiterated the scale of public support for a green recovery package.
The poll found that 73 per cent think government to invest in a "healthier, fairer, green society post Covid-19", while 79 per cent said government words around a 'green recovery' must be backed up by concrete government action and 71 per cent want the government to publish a more ambitious climate action plan.
Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband welcomed the staging of the virtual lobby, hailing it as "a welcome opportunity for people to talk to their MPs about ambitions for a world leading green recovery post COVID-19".
"We need to put people and the planet first and we can do that with a zero carbon army that tackles the unemployment emergency by employing people to do all the green jobs that need doing and enables us to build back better," he said. "We need to listen closely to the priorities that people want and will work to ensure that we take real, tangible action on the environmental crisis to build better lives for people throughout our country and tackle the climate emergency."
Separately, Greenpeace today published a major new report estimating that a green economic recovery package totalling £100bn could create 1.8 million new green jobs in industries such as energy, transport, and housing, while helping slash UK emissions.
The research - which was carried out by sustainability advisors, 3Keel, on behalf of Greenpeace UK - looked at the possible employment outcomes of the policies and investments set out in Greenpeace's manifesto for a green recovery, which was published last month.
It predicts that a £48bn green transport investment programme would create 890,000 new jobs in areas such as electric vehicle manufacturing, expanding and improving the public transport network and creating new infrastructure for walking and cycling all across the country, while a £25.2bn stimulus package for smart power and renewable energy could create a further 320,000 jobs.
Similarly, a national buildings upgrade programme backed by £17.2bn of investment could create 400,000 jobs and a £9.6bn investment in restoring nature and creating a circular economy for waste could create 230,000 new jobs.
"As a major unemployment crisis looms we need a decisive, fast response from the government," said Greenpeace UK's green recovery campaigner, Paul Morozzo. "By investing in the right industries now to help tackle the climate emergency - which hasn't gone away during lockdown - the government can create well over a million jobs when we desperately need them. It has the chance to address multiple crises at the same time. If government acts, jobs will follow."
The latest developments come as speculation about the contents of the government's economic stimulus package reaches a fever pitch.
The Prime Minister has previously said he wants to seize the opportunity to "build back better" and engineer a green recovery, while various media reports have suggested the government is planning to boost a host of low carbon industries.
However, the FT reported yesterday that plans to increase funding for energy efficiency upgrades are the subject of a Whitehall turf war, with Johnson's senior advisor, Dominic Cummings, said to be calling for a multi-billion pound funding packaged to be diverted to support new home development.
Similarly, AutoExpress reported last week that a mooted plan for a new scrappage scheme to incentivise motorists to switch to electric vehicles has been shelved.
Meanwhile Business Secretary and COP26 President Alok Sharma gave a speech yesterday when he made little mention of the government's green recovery plans.
However, he did call on business leaders to step up their support for the net zero transition on multiple fronts.
"The business community has collectively understood that building a green economy isn't just good for the environment, it's actually also good for the bottom line," he said, adding that there were a number of ways business leaders could support next year's COP26 Summit.
Specifically, he urged businesses to sign up to the Powering Past Coal, RE100 and EV100 initiatives and pledge to source 100 per cent renewable power and 100 per cent zero emission fleets. He also called on corporates to embrace the recommendations from the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), join the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment, and sign up to the Race to Zero Coalition by setting credible net zero emission targets.
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