Earth Day: Let’s create clean growth

Earth Day: Let’s create clean growth

BLOG · BY TTF CEO DAVID HOPKINS · 22 April 2020

As we celebrate Earth Day, we should remember that while the quarantine may be temporary, the choices we make now will have a big affect on climate change.

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Today is Earth Day. While we can all see the crisis for people and communities around the world from COVID-19, when we look to nature we see something else. We hear reports of visible falls in pollution and carbon emissions.

Smog is clearing, wildlife is venturing into city and town centres, while rivers and seas are clearer and cleaner as tourists stay away. But as the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, cautions, ‘any positive environmental impact in the wake of this abhorrent pandemic, must therefore be in our changing our production and consumption habits towards cleaner and greener.’

Now, as economic stimulus packages are drawn up, there is an opportunity to create real, lasting change. How the UK emerges from COVID-19 could set our direction for years to come. Too often a crisis is a time when Government chooses to slash regulations. Now we must do the opposite, turn the tide, and invest in creating sustainable, green business and communities.

The Government took positive steps last week at home to protect jobs by extending the furlough scheme to the end of June. They have also now opened the online portal for businesses to apply. But such schemes offer only temporary relief, and we are continuing to call for the Government to release a roadmap now to help businesses, people, and communities in the UK shape how growth occurs on the other side of the crisis, particularly in construction.

There is an opportunity for Government to continue its support through investment in low-carbon sustainable housing, and to bring forward larger projects of sustainable retrofit and refurbishment. This would help create housing fit for the future, as well as lowering bills and improving living conditions across the country.

It would also help keep many in the construction trades gainfully employed while the economy recovers. This is an industry which exists in every borough of the UK, bringing jobs to locals, and cash flow into cafes and shops. An investment into sustainable housing now is one which will pay dividends for years to come.

We know this will come to an end. Whether the economy goes through a ‘V’, ‘U’, or ‘W’ shaped recession. But we must decide as a country how we want to emerge from this, what we need to make this happen as an timber industry, and when we should change our quarantine tactics.

We released another survey last week to help answer some of these questions, and I do encourage all to respond. This helps inform our lobbying, both for immediate relief and our long term futures.

In the meantime, we would like to wish you a very successful week and a reflective Earth Day. As always myself and the TTF team are just an email or a phonecall away.