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Boris Johnson: Now is the time to plan our green recovery

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The writer is the British Prime Minister

Slowly but surely, humanity is gaining the upper hand in the fight against the virus. We haven’t won yet. There are still difficult weeks and months to come. But with better drugs, tests and a range of vaccines, we know in our hearts that next year we will be successful.

We will use science to eliminate the virus, and we must use the same extraordinary powers of invention to undo the economic damage caused by Covid-19 and to build back better.

Now is the time to plan for a green recovery with highly skilled jobs that give people the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make the country cleaner, greener and more beautiful.

Imagine Britain when a green industrial revolution helped level the country. You prepare your breakfast on hydrogen before getting into your electric car, after charging it overnight from batteries made in the Midlands. Around you, the air is cleaner; trucks, trains, ships and planes run on hydrogen or synthetic fuel.

Britain’s cities and regions – Teesside, Port Talbot, Merseyside and Mansfield – are now synonymous with green technology and jobs. This is where Britain’s ability to produce hydrogen and capture carbon pioneered the decarbonization of transport, industry and electricity.

My 10-point plan to achieve this will mobilize £ 12 billion in government investment, and potentially three times as much from the private sector, to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs.

There will be electric vehicle technicians in the Midlands, construction and installation workers in the North East and Wales, advanced fuels specialists in the North West, agroforestry practitioners in Scotland and network system installers everywhere. And we’ll help people train for these new green jobs with our Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

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This 10-point plan will make the UK the world’s leading center for green technology and finance, laying the foundation for decades of economic growth.

First, we will make the UK the Saudi Arabia of wind power with enough offshore capacity to power every household by 2030.

Second, we will turn water into energy with up to £ 500 million investment in hydrogen.

Third, we will advance our new nuclear energy projects from large scale to advanced small modular reactors.

Fourth, we will invest more than £ 2.8bn in electric vehicles, equipping the land with charging points and creating long-lasting batteries in UK gigafactories. This will allow us to end the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans in 2030. However, we will allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans capable of traveling a significant distance without carbon coming out of the tailpipe to in 2035.

Five – we will have cleaner public transport, including thousands of green buses and hundreds of miles of new cycle paths.

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Six – we will endeavor to repeat the feat of Jack Alcock and Teddie Brown, who made the first non-stop transatlantic flight a century ago, with a zero-emission aircraft. And we will do the same with the ships.

Seven – we will invest £ 1billion next year to make homes, schools and hospitals greener and lower energy bills.

Eight – we will create a new cutting edge industry in carbon capture and storage, backed by £ 1bn of government investment for the clusters of North, Wales and Scotland.

Nine – we will harness nature’s capacity to absorb carbon by planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2025 and reshaping 30,000 football fields in the countryside.

And ten – our £ 1bn energy innovation fund will help bring new low-carbon technologies to market, like the world’s first liquid-air battery being developed at Trafford, and we’ll make the City of London the global center of green finance through our sovereign bond, carbon offset markets and disclosure requirements.

This plan can be a global model for generating net zero emissions in order to create jobs and preserve our lifestyles.

On Wednesday I will meet with UK companies to discuss their contribution. We plan to provide clear timelines for the clean energy we will purchase, details on the regulations we will change, and the carbon prices we will apply to emissions.

I will create a ‘net zero working group’ committed to achieving net zero by 2050, and at next year’s COP26 summit, we will urge countries and businesses around the world to join us in achieving the net zero globally.

Green and growth can go hand in hand. So let’s face the most enduring threat to our planet with one of the most innovative and ambitious job creation programs we have ever seen.

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