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A greener shade of blue? Tory MPs urge PM to prioritise climate concerns

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

A group of moderate Conservative MPs have called on Boris Johnson to support the green economy in the post-Covid recovery. One Nation Conservatives, a group of about 100 MPs, published a report called Building Back Greener with 25 recommendations to “drive economic recovery through green growth”.

The report looks at seven categories in which the government can boost the green economy and states that “economic growth and rising living standards are compatible with meeting net-zero commitments”.

A recurring theme is the deference shown by the report to targets set by the Committee on Climate Change and other green campaigners. This is most evident in the recommendation that the government pledge to ban the sale of new petrol or diesel cars from 2035 be brought forward to 2030. The 2035 target date was only announced by the government in February.

Strengthening the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure is also advised with a call to ensure all new homes include personal EV charging points. This should be augmented by the provision of training to bolster the pool of technicians and engineers qualified to install and repair technology for the low-carbon economy.

There is also a plea to encourage cycling and make it a safer form of transport. A full return to pre-Covid commuter levels is stated as undesirable and investment in broadband should be accelerated to encourage remote working where feasible.

A strategy to plant 30,000 hectares of trees (six times the current government target) to absorb carbon emissions and promote biodiversity is recommended as part of a greenhouse gas removal drive. The public should be incentivised in assisting this through the creation of a domestic carbon tax with tariffs imposed on manufactured imports and exports.

Jerome Mayhew, the Norfolk MP who is lead author of the report, says that “offshore wind, EVs, carbon capture and other clean technologies have the potential to create millions of jobs, attract private investment and grow UK exports”. He also cites the Ipsos MORI poll from July in which 67% of those polled thought a failure to tackle pollution and climate change in a post-Covid recovery was “bad for the economy in the long run”.

The One Nation group originally formed in 2019 in an attempt to counter a no-deal Brexit under Theresa May and re-emerged this summer with the aim of preventing Boris Johnson taking the party further to the right. The One Nation report will find favour with other voices calling for more government funding in the green economy.


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