My Lords, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us to rebuild our economic future. Climate change carries on regardless of pandemics, with fires in Australia and California, rising sea levels, droughts and Arctic temperatures hitting over 20 degrees. Climate change is not a danger to come but a current danger, and if Covid has taught us anything it is that something that happens in one corner of the world can and will affect us all. Here in the UK we are largely sheltered, but even our temperate weather is changing. Just yesterday your Lordships’ House agreed on an SI to help our farmers struggling from too much rain and then too much sun.
This is our second chance to reset. The first, in 2008, was spectacularly squandered. Vast amounts of public money were spent reassembling an old economy of oil and gas; it ensured that the wealth remained in the hands of the rich. Anti-trust laws remain weak and, like weak trade laws, they allow climate-damaging businesses to flourish at the expense of us all. Additionally, the social inequalities deeply embedded in our society have been laid bare by this pandemic.
We need to decide who we support when we come out of lockdown. Do we support the fossil fuels and airlines or a more sustainable world? There is no realistic way to make air travel carbon neutral and we cannot make the fossil fuel industry pleasant to our environment, but we have choices. Green technology is standing by, ready and waiting; in many places it is already cheaper. We could travel, use our land and eat and consume in different ways. Plenty of these jobs are tailor-made for the young.
It sounds drastic, but this year we will have dropped our emissions by 5.5%, whereas we need to drop by 7.6%—but every survey I read says that people want change, and it should be for the Government to support them in this change and lead them forward to a better future. If we go backwards now, it will be completely right that our children and grandchildren should despise us.