Author of the report on the economic impact of climate change has called for Rishi Sunak to spend more than £8 billion to kick start a massive and long term boost to the UK’s net zero ambitions.
Lord Stern said the new chancellor had a unique opportunity to address regional inequalities and invest to meet the government’s target for net-zero emissions with measures already highlighted in the Conservative party manifesto.
Stern, who runs the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, told Sunak to focus his efforts on sectors that are “difficult to decarbonise”, such as transport, property and industry.
Sunak is known to be hurriedly rewriting his budget speech for 11 March and earmarking funds to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, possibly delaying measures to improve the UK’s infrastructure.
But he is expected to signal extra spending in the regions over the life of the parliament to 2024, to support Britain reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The report recommends the government use £6.3bn committed for energy efficiency in the 2019 election manifesto to reduce energy waste in buildings, which are responsible for 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
It also recommends that £1bn committed in the manifesto for vehicle charging points should be focused on rural parts of the UK that would otherwise miss out on the electric car revolution.
Stern said £800m promised to limit emissions through initiatives to capture carbon and store it should be used as an incentive to generate private sector investment.
“The budget should mark the start of a decade of massive investment in accelerating the transition of the UK economy to zero-carbon growth,” said Stern, whose report for former chancellor Gordon Brown in 2005 was one of the first to show the economic challenges from climate change and how they could be met in the UK and globally.
“This would mean that by 2030 the UK could have higher living standards, and better health and wellbeing, underpinned by UK businesses innovating and adopting cutting-edge zero-carbon technologies and practices fit for the mid-21st century,” he added.
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