Tony Hughes, CEO with Platinum Assets and Developments reflects on the benefits the pandemic might deliver
As we begin to see a glimpse of how the world might look when the COVID-19 lockdown is slowly released, there are, amazingly, some green, rather than silver linings.
And perhaps the biggest is that there is a real window of opportunity to step up the fight against climate change.
The dramatic fall in travel has contributed to some huge reductions in carbon emissions – up to 48% in the UK according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Worldwide, according to the Global Carbon Project, a predicted rise in carbon output during 2020 is now expected to be replaced by a decline of between five and ten per cent, while satellite images taken by America’s space agency – NASA – show dramatic falls in pollution, particularly over China.
So as we re-evaluate our way of life and consider homeworking and the application of technology to reduce travel, global experts are challenging governments to grasp the opportunity to go greener. The Committee on Climate Change is recommending that ministers ensure funds earmarked for economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions.
Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The crisis has shown the importance of planning well for the risks the country faces. Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy.
“The government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions. It is important that the lost or threatened jobs of today should be replaced by those created by the new, resilient economy.”
With Energy Secretary Alok Sharma having already spoken in favour of a green recovery to the recession this suggests that there could well be priority given to grants for green and carbon neutral energy manufacturing and producing businesses – like ours.
As we seek to develop renewable energy projects and small, clean and efficient peak period power plants that will keep the country going when sun, wind and waves are unable to produce enough electricity to meet demand, we can play our part in this green recovery initiative.
And investors wishing to see returns on environmentally principled projects can do so with even more confidence as the traditional options of property and stocks continue to show volatility.
The gas fired combined cycle peaking plant being constructed in Sudbrook, South Wales, for example, will deliver returns of up to 18%.