Carolyn Fairbairn (2)

The government must focus on creating environmentally-focused jobs and projects as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic in order to boost growth and productivity, according to one of the UK’s most influential business lobby groups.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, is calling on the government to turn its attention carbon capture programmes and hydrogen power in its next Budget.

Opening the group’s first virtual annual conference, Ms Fairbairn will say that the UK must become a global leader in climate action.

Through a preview of her speech, the director general is expected to say: “For so many, this feels like a time of fiercely competing goals. The world faces two seemingly separate yet fundamental problems – Covid-19, the biggest health crisis in living memory, and climate change – the defining challenge of the modern era.

“But they are not separate. The response to one affects success on the other. And the defining question is, how does the UK use this moment to rebuild our economy?”

For years, the CBI lobbied against a green economy, warning that tackling climate change could lead to enormous job losses. But it has held the view that specific and greater support for green projects can in fact create more jobs and increase productivity.

Ms Fairbairn is urging the government to release documents on its long-term carbon-cutting plan, the energy white paper, National Infrastructure Strategy, and decarbonising transport.

Dame Carolyn will say: “Together business and government can lay the foundations for a strong, sustainable future.

“Not just for the UK, but through our global leadership, beyond our shores as well… a to-do list for this generation to pass on a better world to the next.”

Along with becoming a leader in carbon capture and the production of hydrogen, the CBI is calling for the government to lift caps on auctions for renewable power and to introduce new financing models for nuclear capacity. It also wants the government to accelerate the provision of electric vehicle charging points and funding for battery manufacturing.

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