Boris Johnson needs to prioritise a green UK economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis, say bosses from leading firms.
They called for polluting industries “without a proper climate plan” to be excluded from government help.
Government advisors recently warned that the UK must not fall into a deeper climate crisis.
Mr Johnson is expected to make a speech on Sunday which may lead to a limited relaxation of lockdown rules.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the government “remains committed to being a world leader in tackling the great global challenges we face in climate change and biodiversity loss.”
As the UK eases restrictions and tries to repair damage to the economy from the crisis, the chief executives of more than 60 British organisations called on the government to:
- Invest in infrastructure, technology and skills to create jobs that help sustainability
- Exclude companies in “polluting industries” that do not have a proper climate plan
- Restore ecosystems on land and in our oceans by incentivising walking and cycling
- Support sustainable food, farming and fishing
- Swiftly pass environmental laws and bring in targets in law to restore ecosystems
- Bring global leaders together to plan for a sustainable economic recovery
The signatories to an open letter to Boris Johnson included Iceland Foods, Barratt Developments, The Body Shop, Ben and Jerry’s, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Trust and Greenpeace UK.
Richard Walker, the managing director of Iceland Foods, said: “The economic recovery from this global health crisis must put the restoration of nature at its heart – because that is the only way we can continue to power our human endeavour sustainably. If nature is protected, we are protected.”
Beccy Speight, the chief executive of the RSPB, said: “Humanity’s future is inextricably bound to the health of our planet. No part of the world is untouched by human activity, and as we continue our destruction of nature, we make our own planet less habitable for people as well.”
Hilary McGrady, director-general at the National Trust, said: “Right now, the nation’s attention is rightly focused on dealing with the immediate and profound impact of coronavirus on health, social fabric and livelihoods.
“But as governments around the world turn their thoughts to economic recovery, their plans must respond to what the lockdown has clearly shown; that people want and need access to nature-rich green spaces near where they live.”
The letter comes after government advisors warned that the UK must avoid falling from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper environmental crisis.
They said on Wednesday that ministers should ensure funds earmarked for a post-coronavirus economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions.
The UK is already making representations to other countries that tackling climate change must be woven into the solution to the coronavirus economic crisis.
A government spokesperson said: “As we rebuild our economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we must continue to shape an economy and society that are cleaner, greener and more resilient.
“Our ambitious environment, fisheries and agriculture bills will enable us to protect and recover our precious natural environment and diverse ecosystems in line with our 25 year environment plan.”