As the coronavirus pandemic seems to be reaching its peak, with countries around the world facing devastating health and economic impacts, it is striking to note very fast moving political developments in support of a “Green Recovery”.

By 11th April 2020, European climate and environmental ministers from 13 countries including France and Germany had signed a joint letter which acknowledged that while –

“Our societies have shut down, borders are closed, unemployment is on the rise and companies are struggling… we must not lose sight of the persisting climate and ecological crisis.”

The letter called on the European Commission to use the EU Green Deal as the framework, and declared that –

“We need to send a strong political signal to the world and our citizens that the EU will lead by example even in difficult times like the present and blaze the trail to climate neutrality and the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement… action to protect and conserve biodiversity must be a key part of our response…”

On 14th April 2020 an alliance of 180 European Ministers, MEPs, business leaders and environmental activists signed a letter welcoming the declaration of European leaders to do “whatever it takes” to tackle the social and economic consequences of the crisis, but calling on this to take the form of an economy built around Green principles, with the fight against climate change and the degradation of nature going hand in hand with the economic measures –

“Covid-19 will not make climate change and nature degradation go away. We will not win the fight against Covid-19 without a solid economic response. Let’s not oppose those two battles, but let’s fight and win them at the same time. By doing so, we will only be stronger together.”

Also on 14th April 2020 the UK’s Climate Change Committee announced that it would amend its 2020 work programme to respond to the global Covid-19 pandemic, and –

“refocus its annual Progress Report to Parliament in June to include advice on supporting a resilient recovery”

The Climate Change Committee also announced that Pete Betts, former chief climate negotiator for both the UK and EU, and a veteran of 16 UN climate summits, would be offering his expert advice to the Committee to guide its international work in the run up to “the most important summit on climate change since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015”.

With the COP-26 climate summit postponed, which had been scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November 2020, and the co-hosts Italy and the UK, with all other participants, distracted by the pressing demands of the pandemic, these are particularly important signals of the direction of travel for future policy on climate change and biodiversity.

About the Author

William Wilson is a specialist environmental, regulatory and nuclear lawyer with over 25 years experience in government, private practice and consultancy. He worked as a senior lawyer at the UK Department of the Environment/DETR/DEFRA, and helped to build up the environmental and nuclear practices at another major law firm, as well as running his own environmental policy consultancies. William has experience of all aspects of environmental law, including water, waste, air quality and industrial emissions, REACH and chemicals regulation, environmental protection, environmental permitting, litigation, legislative drafting, managing primary legislation, negotiating EU Directives and drafting secondary legislation.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

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  1. Climate Change
  2. Environmental Governance

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