My Lords, a fairer, cleaner and more sustainable economy in a more equal and socially just society cannot just be an aspiration: it must be seen as critical to our survival. We must build back better. This debate is indeed timely, with many people thinking that a target of 2030 rather than 2050 to be carbon neutral is actually needed. The situation of lockdown will have caused mental and emotional health difficulties for many. These came on top of pre-existing, deep-seated fears—in particular, but not exclusively, among young people—about the climate emergency. However, many will have walked and cycled in streets free of traffic and breathed cleaner air than for many years. New plans must be put in place to limit road traffic and ensure that there is not a return to the massive use of the car.
Nelson Mandela said:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
But, as one noble Lord said earlier, a change in education is needed, too, to ensure that we have a focus on the climate emergency and on sustainability in our classrooms and lecture halls. We also have the opportunity to help young people, with projects such as Imagine 2030 being run in Hammersmith and Fulham, to help people look at what changes are needed and how they can help to make them.
The TUC has focused in its report not just on equality issues, vital though they are, but on the need for a plan towards net zero carbon, with a just transition for workers across the economy, rebuilding the UK’s industrial capacity but on the basis of what a carbon-neutral economy and society actually needs. This will require investment in education and training at all levels and will offer a real chance for a more positive future, rather than the dystopian vision foreshadowed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, in her opening remarks, if we do not act.