This is an important development, as we stand at a crossroads in terms of environmental action, faced with an opportunity to grasp positive change we have not had before. As far as solving 'big' problems, the last few months have not only showed what the world can achieve, and quickly, with concerted, collective effort, but also given all of us an insight into what a low emissions world feels like (my asthma has definitely appreciated it). At the same, there is every danger that the new normal will look exactly like the old normal for the environment if the wrong kind of stimulus is pursued to kick start the economy.
But the fact that the signatories are a list of unusual suspects - Heathrow, BP, the National Grid, top banks and more - rather than the usual can give pause for hope.
To quote a chunk from the letter...
"With the UK facing major economic and social concerns including the risk of high unemployment and rising regional inequality, we believe that an ambitious low carbon growth and environmental improvement agenda can do a lot to address these, as well as make the UK economy better prepared to deal with future shocks such as those related to climate change...a clean, just recovery, that creates quality employment and builds a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient UK economy for the future...Measures that...have the potential to be more effective in supporting jobs and economic growth whilst also supporting our long term climate goals and delivering better outcomes in other key areas of public interest, such as public health and wellbeing. As businesses and business groups operating in the UK, we reaffirm our commitment to action on climate change and our determination to create a cleaner, competitive and inclusive UK economy. The current crisis, in moving us all away from business-as-usual, has already created shifts in how we operate, and we believe we must use the recovery to accelerate the transition to net zero"
This last point about net zero emissions is important, as it shifts emphasis from a 'carbon neutral' framework, where techniques such as offsetting can be employed by companies to allow continued pollution, to one where you have to cut back as much as you put out. Which is a big step in the right direction. Although it is still a case of running to stand still, by not addressing the carbon already released. That requires a carbon negative stance as adopted by Microsoft. This has to be the end goal, but the first step on the journey is often the most important one.
Final point: there's 200 businesses here. But it shouldn't stop there. If you're not on the list, you can still sign up in spirit and act now in practice. Because who wouldn't want a green, clean and just recovery.
You can read the full letter here...