Beyond COvid: The Digest

What constitutes a green recovery and how can it be delivered?

September 1, 2020
  • Our focus this week is on the latest Beyond Covid Discussion Series, which looked at a green recovery.
  • Registration is open for our upcoming webinar on the economics of a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Read our In Brief and Reflections sections to see the latest research and analysis around economic recovery and reform Beyond Covid.
  • To get in touch with feedback or suggestions for next week's Digest, contact us on

In Focus: What constitutes a green recovery and how can it be delivered?

  • Last week’s episode of the Beyond Covid discussion series gathered experts on climate policy to discuss how the UK's approach to recovery can prioritise environmental action. Watch the episode here.
  • Dimitri Zenghelis (Special Advisor to the Wealth Economy Project, University of Cambridge and Senior Visiting Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute, LSE), explained how public investment can both accelerate decarbonisation and deliver other positive economic outcomes. A handy slide detailing these policies is available here.
  • Sam Hall (Director, Conservative Environment Network) discussed the economic and political opportunities for the government in delivering a sustainable recovery, drawing upon recent polling which found strong public support for a green recovery. The policy approach of CEN for meeting net zero can be found on their website.
  • Miriam Brett (Director of Research and Advocacy, Common Wealth) explored how an unequal and extractive economy is fuelling climate breakdown and how bailout conditionality represents an opportunity to reshape the economy towards a more just and sustainable future. Common Wealth’s recent work includes Charting A Just and Sustainable Recovery for Scotland, and a Green Recovery Act.
  • Prior to the pandemic, the Council of Science and Technology wrote to the Prime Minister, proposing a ‘whole systems approach’ to achieve the UK’s net zero target. This included a suite of recommendations ranging from carbon emissions assessments for all public sector policies and investments to establishing a national infrastructure investment bank. The Prime Minister recently commended the recommendations and ‘looked forward to further engagement as we recover from COVID-19’.
  • However, parts of the UK government’s recovery efforts have been criticised by green campaigners as being environmentally destructive, including plans to build more roads and erode planning regulations.
  • Campaigners and think tanks have also called for the UK to reduce emissions by more than 100% to recognise its historical contribution to cumulative emissions, currently the fifth largest in the world.

Watch the latest Discussion Series webinar: Sam Hall (Conservative Environment Network), Miriam Brett (Common Wealth) and Dimitri Zenghelis (Cambridge University) explore what the government needs to do to ensure that its pandemic recovery policies meet the UK’s environmental obligations.

In brief

  • The government trialled a new payment scheme for people in the North West on low incomes who need to go into self isolation. The amount - £130 over ten days for those who test positive, and £182 over 14 days for family members - has been criticised for being too low by local councils and a government advisor. NEF’s Alfie Stirling spoke to Nick Ferrari on LBC about the policy.
  • Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves has demanded an independent probe into the £500m in procurement contracts given with no competitive tendering to firms linked to members of the Conservative Party. A legal case has since been launched by three MPs and the Good Law Project over the failure to disclose details of PPE contracts.
  • The Korean government has allocated 20 trillion won ($16.85 billion) of funding in the 2021 state budget to financing its “Korean New Deal” stimulus package, which aims to inject 160 trillion won by 2025 into social protections, employment and measures to tackle the environmental emergency.
  • A World Bank blog calls for governments to improve the equity of the tax system, including through closing international loopholes for corporations and individuals, and levying carbon and other tax measures to combat the environmental emergency.
  • In its annual report, the Reserve Bank of India has warned of growing destruction of Indian agriculture resulting from the environmental emergency. Extreme weather events and higher temperatures are destroying crop production and “water tables have depleted at an alarming rate”.
  • The IMF has warned that the economic impacts of coronavirus could undo poverty reductions in many ‘low-income developing countries’ achieved over the last decade. It joins the World Bank in calling for debt relief.
  • The US Federal Reserve is moving to an average inflation target, which will allow inflation to rise above its existing 2 per cent target to compensate for ongoing low inflation.


  • Professor Andrew Gamble has compared COVID-19 to the two world wars and their effects upon economic and social change
  • New research by Citizens Advice has found that 6 million UK adults have fallen behind on at least one household bill during the pandemic, with those at the sharpest end of the labour market hit hardest.
  • The Financial Times has called on the government to disclose the details of firms in receipt of state-backed loans.
  • Henry Mance has written for the FT on the conservative case for action on the environment.
  • Larry Elliott has written for the Guardian suggesting that the autumn Budget must involve fiscal stimulus to ensure a sustainable recovery.
  • Laurie Macfarlane and Miriam Brett at Common Wealth have publisheda plan for a 'just and sustainable recovery' for Scotland.
  • Research from Tax Justice UK shows that higher taxes on wealth are attractive to Conservative voters.
  • Research from Autonomy has suggested that a 4-day week could create 500,000 jobs in the UK.

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