Over 100 prominent parents including actors, Julie Walters and Lily Cole; technology entrepreneur, Martha Lane-Fox; scientist Professor Robert Winston; author, Michael Morpurgo; singer, Paloma Faith; and presenter, Lorraine Kelly; have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for a green and just economic recovery from COVID-19 for the sake of all our children.
The letter is being published ahead of a parent protest where mums and dads will create a wind farm outside Downing Street to highlight the need for a low carbon revival.
115 parents including economists, business leaders, union leaders, faith leaders, scientists, actors, teachers, doctors, and musicians are calling for a low carbon recovery to address two key concerns – the impact of the pandemic on their children’s job prospects and the impact of the climate crisis on their future.
Other signatories include naturalist, Chris Packham; World Health Organisation ambassador Rosamund Kissi-Deborah; actor Tamzin Outhwaite; presenter, Konnie Huq; and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
Actor, Julie Walters said:
“The pandemic has brought worry and heartache to millions of families in the UK and beyond. We all want governments to do everything in their power to stop the virus spreading and get people back on their feet. For the sake of our children, we also need governments to put the same energy and investment into preventing an even greater climate catastrophe from unfolding across the globe.”
The letter urges the Prime Minister not to ‘build our way out of one disaster by supercharging the next.’ They warn that allowing climate emissions to rebound to pre-pandemic levels will have ‘catastrophic consequences for children’s lives and livelihoods with those from the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in the UK, and across the globe, being hardest hit.’
It argues that there does not have to be a ‘trade-off between creating jobs now and building a fairer, safer world for all our children,’ and points to research which shows that investing in a low carbon recovery will create more and better jobs than could be generated by rebuilding an outdated fossil fuel economy.
Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE which works with business leaders to tackle the climate crisis said:
“Investing in a low carbon recovery makes sense whether you are worried about the economy or the environment. The two are inextricably linked. We must give our children a future and that means creating green jobs and a greener economy”
The parents also highlight opinion polls which suggests the majority of the British public want to ‘lock in the silver linings of lock down’ including cleaner air, safer streets, a renaissance in cycling and walking, and the re-emergence of nature in our towns and cities. One opinion poll suggested just nine percent of people want a total return to ‘normal’ after lockdown.
Rosamund Kissi-Deborah, whose daughter Ellie suffered a fatal asthma attack as a result of air pollution:
“Air pollution kills 40,000 people in the UK every year and new research also shows that the coronavirus is more deadly in areas of high air pollution. Ensuring every child, woman and man in the UK has clean air to breathe should be a government priority for the sake of our health, our economy and our climate.”
Young people have been most likely to lose their jobs or see their income drop during lockdown, and youth unemployment in the UK is predicted to hit one million by the end of the year. Meanwhile greenhouse gas emissions have bounced back sharply after a steep fall earlier this year. The UK, which will host a critical UN Climate Summit next year, is likely to miss its targets for emissions cuts without urgent action.
The parents point to evidence that hundreds of thousands more good jobs could be rapidly created by boosting investment in energy efficiency, public transport, renewable energy, restoring nature and a repair economy than simply rebooting an outdated dirty fossil fuel economy. The £3 billion green recovery package announced as part of the summer budget is a fraction of whats needed to deliver on this.
Dr. Husna Ahmad, Secretary General of the World Muslim Leadership Forum said:
“As a British Bangladeshi Muslim Mother of six and grandmother of five I am at the same time fearful and hopeful for their future. I am hopeful that we can have a green reset which places the planet first and promotes justice and equality for all people. I am fearful about the choices that our leaders make as the next generations futures will be shaped forever by them. Vulnerable children in the UK and around the world are on the frontline of the climate crisis. This is a defining moment and we need to choose the sustainable and equitable path.”
The letter is being coordinated by parent groups Mothers Rise Up and Parents for Future UK. The groups are part of a global network of parent led organisations that have come together to demand climate action.
Maya Mailer speaking on behalf of both groups said:
“We must seize this moment to build back a society and economy that is fairer, greener, and healthier – our children and grand-children futures depend on it. Nothing could be more important and we urge the Prime Minister not to squander this moment’.