Covid-19: Recovery Strategies - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:45 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Houghton of Richmond Lord Houghton of Richmond Crossbench 1:45 pm, 11th June 2020

My Lords, I, too, welcome this debate and express my enthusiasm for using the recovery strategies from Covid-19 to help contribute to a fairer society, a cleaner environment and a more sustainable economy. However, I also advocate that the lessons of the pandemic, and particularly the data that flows from the experience of the international lockdown, are used to inform the ambition of those strategies.

I recently attended, in a virtual way, a RUSI event on the general subject of future energy. Data presented to the discussion indicated that, for an extended period of time this year, 4.2 billion people have been under lockdown, only a fraction of the world’s airlines have flown and most people’s cars have barely moved, yet the forecast impact this year of this unprecedented lockdown, which has brought global economies almost to a halt, is an anticipated 25% drop in oil use and, as the noble Baroness said in her excellent opening speech, just an 8% reduction in carbon generation.

I offer that insight not to discourage ambition but purely to put a reality check on both the time and effort needed to bring about significant change in carbon emissions and to add realism to those who use the language of acceleration. The strategies that we conceive must be bold but they must also be anchored in reality or they will lose credibility and, in the context of COP 26, will most certainly fail to attract international consensus.