The announcement by the UK Chancellor on 8 July that £2 billion would be spent on a green home grant is to be welcomed. The aim is to help households with retrofitting their homes with better insulation. The Chancellor believes that 650,000 homes could be upgraded, thereby cutting carbon emissions equivalent to taking 270,000 cars off the road and supporting around 140,000 ‘green jobs’.
Many would recognize that more needs to be done. A powerful letter to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) posted on 11 June by the Chairman and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle called for ‘A Just and Green Cultural Recovery’. The letter has six clear asks of the government in any green recovery:
- The Cultural Renewal Task Force prioritise a rapid, just and green recovery, with designated representation on every sub-group. A just transition must be woven into all themes to ensure that those who have been left out, and the freelance creative workforce are taken fully into account.
- The recommendation from the Committee on Climate Change that legally binding ‘net-zero policy [is] embedded across all levels and departments of Government’ is adopted by DCMS and the UK put in place policies to meet its current fourth and fifth carbon budgets which we are currently not on track to meet.
- Public cultural compliancy and funding requirements are aligned to net-zero requirements and promote biodiversity, and that larger organisations adopt explicit science-based, net-zero pathways.
- Any national Green Recovery plan is sector-specific to include the creative and cultural sector, with a focus on inclusion, place-making and communities, including strong incentives for space for nature.
- Specific R&D funds are designated for the creative and cultural community to benefit from interdisciplinary knowledge and partnerships which result in fit-for-purpose and future-proofed cultural services and products.
- A cross-cutting government Task Force on Green Creative Skills and Curriculum Reform is created, with representation from Department for Education, Department for Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs encompassing environmental and cultural expertise to prepare the future cultural workforce adequately.
The authors state that: ‘We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create the building blocks for a green deal for culture which puts social justice at its heart, so that the UK's net-zero carbon targets get back on track, and include culture and the creative sector.’
In a separate open letter on 1 June, more than 200 leading UK businesses, investors and business networks called on the government to deliver a Covid-19 recovery plan that builds a more inclusive, stronger and more resilient UK economy.
The letter urged the Prime Minister to provide clear vision for recovery efforts that align with the UK's wider social, environmental and climate goals. The signatories come from both multi-national and national businesses, across industry sectors, including energy, finance, consumer goods, retail, construction, water and communication.
Together, the signatories called on the UK to deliver a clean, just recovery that creates quality employment and builds a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient UK economy for the future with a plan that can:
- Drive investment in low-carbon innovation, infrastructure and industries, as well as improved resilience to future environmental risks;
- Focus support on sectors and activities that can best support sustainable growth, increased job creation and accelerate both the recovery and the decarbonisation of the economy;
- Include within financial support packages measures to ensure receiving businesses are well managed and their strategies are science based and aligned with national climate goals.
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