We come from all walks of life and all across the UK. We have, between us, many different values, views and experiences. But we have worked together in an atmosphere of respect, co-operation, tolerance and humour to arrive at the considered recommendations in this report.
Our recommendations and the reasons for them are necessarily numerous and detailed. But there are a number of themes that have recurred throughout our discussions that we believe should be at the heart of government’s and Parliament’s approach to achieving net zero:
- Education and information: there is a need for information and education for everyone – individuals, businesses, government and others – about climate change and the steps needed to tackle it. It is essential for buy-in to the changes that are needed.
- Fairness: as with most things in life, the solutions to climate change are neither easy nor free, but they need to be fair. Fair to people with jobs in different sectors. Fair to people with different incomes, travel preferences and housing arrangements. Fair to people who live in different parts of the UK.
- Freedom and choice: we believe it is important to maintain, wherever possible, freedom and choice for both individuals and local areas so that they can choose the solutions that work best for them. This should not be at the expense of taking the steps necessary to ensure a safe and healthy environment for future generations. We have outlined in this report where we believe an acceptable balance lies.
- Co-benefits: tackling climate change could bring with it many advantages. It could see benefits for local communities, high streets and local businesses. It could boost our economy and promote innovation, including in technology. And it could improve our health and reduce pollution. The UK should take advantage of these potential rewards.
- Nature: we need to protect and restore our natural environment, and our access to it. We strongly support measures that have a positive impact on biodiversity and wildlife, whilst also helping the UK move towards its net zero goal.
Some of our strongest views centre on leadership and roles. It is imperative that there is strong and clear leadership from government – leadership to forge a cross-party consensus that allows for certainty, long-term planning and a phased transition. This is not the time nor the issue for scoring party political points. The Covid-19 pandemic that has caused so much suffering brings with it new considerations, but it does not change the need for progress towards the UK’s climate goals.
Alongside government leadership, we recognise that achieving net zero will require a joined-up approach across society – all of us will have to play our part. Our recommendations take account of this reality. They seek to provide individuals, communities and organisations with the information, incentives and conditions to make change possible. We hope that our report will be an invaluable resource to government and Parliament as they work to ensure that the UK reaches net zero by 2050.
This opening statement from Assembly Members is taken from the final report of Climate Assembly UK.