In order to reach its ambitious net-zero carbon emission goals by 2050, the UK needs to invest an extra £14 billion each year, a report suggests.
Following the release of the government’s own assessment of major projects in the pipeline, released on 16 June, the environmental charity Green Alliance analysed just how much more the UK government needs to be investing into green infrastructure.
The organisation claims that the £14 billion would be hugely beneficial for clean transport, nature restoration, and low-carbon buildings – ensuring that the UK reaches net carbon zero by 2050.
But despite the government’s eco-minded goal, over the past three years, £9 billion has been spent on projects that actually increase CO2.
The government has been criticised by the green charity after voicing its determination to meet carbon targets over the next few years, despite ministers planning to spend £28 billion on roads alone. The UK is currently at a crossroads – and the government’s following steps will determine whether or not they hit their targets on time.
Will COVID-19 impact this?
The government report also comes at a time when much of the country is pushing for more ecological change. A number of large UK firms have called for the government to deliver a COVID-19 recovery plan that prioritises the environment.
The road to recovery beyond the worldwide pandemic could also lead to UK infrastructure priorities looking very different. The rapid normalisation of video conferencing has introduced a new way to work, with more working from home and much less travel.
Funds that were previously earmarked for expanding the road network would now be better directed at ensuring reliable, fast broadband – particularly for rural communities.
According to Green Alliance, a net-zero-aligned infrastructure will provide much higher and faster economic and social benefits than higher carbon alternatives, helping to get people back to work in the short term, and building low-carbon capacity for the long term.
The next few months are still laced with uncertainty, but what we can all be sure of is that our recovery from COVID-19 is a perfect segue to welcoming a greener infrastructure.