Covid-19: Recovery Strategies - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:40 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Wei Lord Wei Conservative 2:40 pm, 11th June 2020

My Lords, I declare my interests as in the register. Like other speakers, it is surprising to me—or perhaps not—that this year’s lockdown may have done as much to reduce the impact of human behaviour on the climate as almost any other thing that we have tried to do in previous years. I find that curious. As a previous speaker mentioned, there could also be a link on the health side between pollution and those most affected by Covid.

Climate change is often presented as being in opposition to jobs and the economy. On one level, I do not blame the Government for focusing on getting the economy going in the short term and not necessarily taking a climate-orientated approach; whether we sell diesel cars or electric cars, people need jobs, and the Government will have to do a lot to get everyone working. However, I had a thought recently when I looked into the origin of the pandemic and our response, which made me wonder whether there is another way to attack this issue as we rebuild our economy and look at climate change—and how we can mitigate it—afresh: looking at resilience as a uniting theme.

As a country, we now know that we are vulnerable in terms of health and what is going on with the planet, as well as in business, because our many supply chains all over the world have been shown to be fragile. In future, we should make the goal not just to help the planet from a climate perspective or to create jobs and get the economy going at whatever cost, but to focus on how to make sure that this never happens again. How do we ensure that however many millions of people are never at risk of losing their jobs because those jobs are primarily physical or, perhaps even worse, easily automatable? How do we ensure that our transport networks continue to support the country in future lockdowns? Can the Minister address this in her reply and talk about how the economy recovery plan will build a more resilient economy and society in future?