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The green recovery—Prospect’s new report

The road to Britain’s net-zero future

By Josh Lowe  

The pandemic turned 2020 into a year of immediate and all-consuming crises—of public health, and of economic wellbeing both national and personal. But it also marked yet another year where the global climate emergency became more evident, from wildfires in California to record high summer temperatures closer to home.

For the government and civil society these dual disasters could together spawn a revolutionary response—one which combines robust economic stimulus with averting planetary catastrophe. Boris Johnson last year announced a “green industrial revolution,” with significant investment and big new ideas in green transport and places, green energy, and green innovation. But while the government’s ambition has been broadly welcomed, it faces hurdles too.

In part, this is a story about technology. We must clean up our energy mix, and that means leaning more heavily on electricity, for example to power our transportation. Rachel Maclean, Minister for the Future of Transport and Decarbonisation, tells us how Britain can benefit from the coming boom in electric vehicles. Innovations like carbon capture and storage and hydrogen energy also bring with them opportunities and potential pitfalls.

But this is also a question of leadership—of politicians displaying both strategic vision and tactical flexibility. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham explains why, in 2019, the city declared a climate emergency not just for symbolic reasons, but to galvanise public and private sectors alike. Philip Dunne, Environmental Audit Committee Chair, writes of the need for national government to align short-term pandemic response with long-term green goals.

There’s a long road ahead, but if the UK gets this right, we could build back to a better society than we had before.

A full PDF of the report can be downloaded here.

Contents:

We must act now to create a more sustainable world
Our future must be greener and fairer for everyone
Andy Burnham

Investing in low-carbon jobs is not just about the future
The time to act is now
Philip Dunne

The role of hydrogen in the climate puzzle
It could be transformative for the UK’s economy
Julia King

The price of power
Finding the balance between flexibility and stability
Robert Gross

Building homes to last
Public appetite is there for us to build cleaner, greener homes
Clive Betts

In the green
Financial markets can align with our climate goals
Rhian-Mari Thomas

A just transition
Green innovation can’t only be about flashy tech
Martha McPherson

Putting the people first
People and communities must be at the heart of how we store and use power
Rebecca Willis

In numbers: the UK’s journey to net zero
Josh Lowe

Capturing the market
The UK has what it takes to lead the way in carbon capture and storage
Jon Gibbins

Electric dreams
The UK is leading the way on decarbonising vehicles
Josh Lowe interviews Rachel Maclean

A word from our sponsors:

The green industrial revolution: the need for a systems-led approach for transport
Holistic thinking is key to decarbonising transport
Mike Bell, Ricardo Plc

Engineering our way to net zero in the UK
Climate is a complex challenge that requires ambition, strategy and long-term thinking
Chris Ball and David Cole

Cleared for takeoff
Britain’s aerospace sector is launching a new push for green innovation
Josh Lowe interviews ATI’s Gary Elliott

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