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How the infrastructure and development sectors can build on public appetite for a Green Recovery

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Our Account Manager Laura Cunliffe-Hall explores how the infrastructure and development sectors can play their part in building back better with a Green Recovery.

Now that we can slowly begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for the infrastructure and development sectors to focus on how we can build back better. As the government looks to rely on infrastructure for an economic stimulus, now is the time to ensure that we invest in infrastructure not for its own sake, but to create a more sustainable future.

The latest annual report to Parliament by the Committee on Climate Change published today (25 June 2020), emphasises that accelerating steps to address climate change must be at the heart of any economic recovery plan for the UK. The report also proposes a range of green stimulus measures. These include:

  • Low carbon retrofits
  • Building more green infrastructure
  • Strengthening energy networks to support the electrification of transport and heating
  • Dedicated safe spaces for walking and cycling and support for shared bikes and e-scooters
  • Transitioning towards a more circular economy (with increased investment in good-quality, low-carbon service for waste collection)

Not only do these measures have an important scientific basis, as made clear by the Committee’s report, but the concept of the Green Recovery is also popular with the UK public. Recent research by Climate Assembly UK highlights the public backing for investment in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

Eight in ten of the members polled said that the measures taken by the government to help the economic recovery from COVID-19 should be designed to help reach net zero. These results echo similar findings in Copper Consultancy’s ‘Attitudes to Net Zero’ research, that identified strong public support for reaching net zero emissions by 2050, with a particular focus on greener transport, energy and manufacturing.

Moreover, it is important for those driving projects forward within the infrastructure and development sectors to take public opinion into account and coordinate efforts towards more sophisticated and innovative future-proofing to create climate-friendly and resilient infrastructure. All sectors have their part to play in forging a path towards a greener future.

Further research by the TUC and Transition Economics indicates that fast-tracking spending on projects such as broadband, green technology, transport and housing could deliver a 1.24 million jobs boost by 2022. With this in mind, it is clear that now is the time for the industry to play a key role in stimulating an economic response to the pandemic that is focused around investment in sustainable infrastructure.

As many communities have already successfully adapted to the necessary behavioural changes required by the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside spatial reallocation that has ensured public spaces are re-shaped to be fit for purpose, important steps have already been taken towards inclusive green growth.

Moving forward, we need to see further infrastructure investment directed towards low-carbon and resilient projects to reflect public support for projects that put the wellbeing of people and the planet first.

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