New Policy Connect report calls for public health and climate change to be put at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery from Covid

New report from a cross-party inquiry chaired by former Environment Secretary Hilary Benn MP and former Climate Change Minister Lord Ian Duncan calls for public health and climate change to be put at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery from Covid, and showcased during the UK’s presidency of COP26 in November 2021.

Policy Connect today publishes a report setting out measures to help drive a seismic shift to the green jobs and industries needed to tackle the twin consequences from Covid-19 of unemployment and poor health.

Covid-19 has put the spotlight on the many existing negative health impacts from climate change. Such impacts include premature deaths of our elderly loved ones due to heat stroke, and the growth and global spread of unfamiliar diseases. Direct effects in the UK include deaths from higher summer temperatures, more frequent flooding, poorer air and water quality, water- and animal-borne diseases affecting humans. Greater winter rainfall leads to more damp homes, affecting the health of households.

Policy Connect’s new report includes evidence from a parliamentary roundtable involving a range of health and climate experts, such as Baroness Brown, chair of the Climate Change Committee’s Adaptation Committee, Dr David Penchon from the University of Exeter, and experts from the Nuffield Trust and Chatham House.

Jonathan Shaw, CEO of Policy Connect said

Covid-19 shows the importance of building back our nation’s health alongside our economy to achieve a green bounce-back. Governments already know what kinds of actions are needed to tackle climate change and these will tackle ill-health too. For example, improving our homes - which are ill-prepared for both excess heat and flooding; our transport infrastructure; and the ability of our healthcare services to deal with the health consequences of climate change.

Later in 2021 the UK is hosting the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow, bringing together countries to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. As COP26 President, the UK should set up a coalition of countries to work together for a shared vision of a green, healthy and resilient recovery from Covid-19 – solving the converging challenges of health and climate change.

The Policy Connect report concludes that 2021 is a critical year. Green stimulus and recovery measures should be introduced as part of building back better, not out-dated measures that subsidise carbon intensive industries, locking in climate risks and worsening health conditions.

Government action now, in the budget measures and through follow-up by departments across Whitehall, will allow the UK to showcase health as a key strand of the COP26 Conference and to demonstrate global leadership on a green, resilient and healthy recovery from COVID-19.

The report will be formally launched on Thursday 25th February 2021 with the support of the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP