In May, the EU announced a 750 billion euro package to kickstart a green recovery. This plan promised that, at the centre of the bloc’s recovery programme would be fighting climate change. Here in the UK these voices are getting louder and are coming from a wide variety of angles.

Countless campaign groups as well as high profile figures such as the Prince of Wales have been emphasizing that the rebuilding process after Covid-19 is a great opportunity to create a better, greener world than before. A cross-party group of MPs are calling for “further, faster, fairer action”. More than 20 health groups in the UK, including the British Medical Association, are joining the throng with an open letter warning that pandemics will become more likely with environmental degradation. This letter states promoting air pollution reduction and more active lifestyles are key to building a healthy and more resilient population.

The business world has also been particularly vocal. Approximately 200 chief executives of the UK’s most influential companies have signed a letter to Boris Johnson this week. The letter called on the prime minister to place the UK’s climate commitments as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of the Covid recovery in order to “future proof” the recovery plans. Signatories included the chief executives of HSBC, Nestle, Lloyds Banking Group, Aviva, Intercontinental Hotels and the National Grid.

So, what exactly is this green recovery? According to this letter, “efforts to rescue and repair the economy in response to the current crisis can and should be aligned with the UK’s legislated target of net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.” The document went on to insist that future corporate bailouts be conditional, with green requirements. The overall assertion was that “we must use this recovery to accelerate the transition to net zero”. The Managing Director of Iceland Foods, Richard Walker, in an open letter in the Financial Times also warned of “heavy polluting industries” taking advantage of current crises to push government to “pull back from environmental targets”. Walker stated that “business leaders have a duty to demonstrate that there is a clear economic advantage, and appetite, in prioritising a green recovery.” He called for long-standing tax breaks for fossil fuel industries to be removed and for the UK to model how business can lead the way to a green recovery. Examples given included re-prioritising infrastructure projects (eg. fibre optic broadband over a third runway at Heathrow) and mandatory business commitments to tackle waste.

Many ideas put forward by Walker were echoed by Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Businesses such as retrofitting buildings and renewable energy. Her letter to the Prime Minister included these demands with additional suggestions as to how increased employment opportunities can be created with a green recovery.

Stay tuned for Insider London’s new weekly series on the green recovery. We look at the practical implications for different business sectors.

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