Citizens' assembly takes initial look at green recovery

Ceris Jones at COP24 climate conference, Poland

Pictured above: NFU climate change adviser Dr Ceris Jones

The assembly, which consists of more than 100 people who are representative of the UK population, was commissioned by six parliamentary Select Committees to look at how the UK can reach net zero by 2050.

The group met multiple times between January and March this year and heard from key stakeholders, including NFU climate change adviser Dr Ceris Jones who presented the NFU’s net zero plan. Read more about this work and see Dr Jones’ presentation here.

An image of the cover of the NFU report - Achieving Net Zero: Farming's 2040 goal

The report is intendend to inform the government about the steps it can take towards a green recovery in the wake of the pandemic.

Highlights include:

  • 79% of assembly members strongly agreed or agreed that steps taken by the government to help the economy recover should be designed to help achieve net zero. This includes investing in infrastructure, supporting low carbon industries and making the most of the economic opportunities presented by the path to net zero.
  • 93% of assembly members strongly agreed or agreed that as lockdown eases, the government, employers and others should take steps to encourage lifestyles to change to be more compatible with reaching net zero, focusing on encourage home working and changes to how we travel.

Some assembly members also highlighted the need for steps to be taken to encourage healthier lifestyles, noting that conditions like diabetes and obesity put people more at risk from COVID-19. Some felt that there is a good opportunity to tie in the way we eat with net zero, both when it comes to how we eat and food waste.

NFU climate change adviser Dr Ceris Jones said: “It is really positive to see the overwhelming majority of the Climate Assembly call for an economic recovery package that is consistent with tackling the threat of climate change.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge effect on the economy and lives of people and like Assembly members we see the recovery phase as an opportunity to build back better.“

“Our own aspiration shows how agriculture can help deliver on the report’s recommendations. Equally some of the steps set out by the Assembly, for example, investing in infrastructure and supporting low carbon industries – in our case, an industry which wants to produce the most climate friendly food in the world – will be critical in helping us meet our goal.’

The full report is due to be published in September, but you can read the interim report here.

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