LONDON • More than 100 high-profile parents, from tech entrepreneur Martha Lane-Fox to fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, urged Britain’s government yesterday to ensure economic recovery from the pandemic tackles climate change and puts children at its centre.
The 115 business leaders, musicians, scientists, actors and campaigners used an open letter to urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to “build our way out of one disaster by super-charging the next”.
Actress Julie Walters, who was among the signatories, said governments should ramp up their efforts to tackle climate change, in the same way they have responded to protect people from Covid-19. “For the sake of our children, we need governments to put the same energy and investment into preventing an even greater climate catastrophe from unfolding across the globe,” she said.
If planet-warming emissions rebound to pre-pandemic levels, it would have “catastrophic consequences for children’s lives and livelihoods”, the letter warned, with those from the poorest and most disadvantaged communities being hit hardest.
Spending on green measures – like boosting renewable energy, insulating homes, installing electric-vehicle charging points and re-establishing woodlands – would create more and better jobs than rebuilding a fossil-fuel economy, it said.
Young people have been most likely to lose their jobs or see their incomes drop during the virus lockdown, it noted.
“Investing in a low-carbon recovery makes sense whether you are worried about the economy or the environment. The two are inextricably linked,” said former chief executive of Unilever Paul Polman, who signed the letter.
Ms Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, who has campaigned to have the 2013 death of her nine-year-old daughter from asthma officially linked to illegal levels of air pollution, said she hoped that as a father with a baby, PM Johnson would understand the impact.
“This is not an elitist conversation. Air pollution affects the poorest and vulnerable the most, and we need to continue the fight,” Ms Kissi-Debrah, who is the World Health Organisation’s advocate for health and air quality, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.