In 2020, the world’s governments acted at an impressive scale and speed to mobilise resources in response to COVID-19. By April, they had collectively assigned US$9 trillion to buffer against the economic impacts of the pandemic. In the UK alone, €176.7 billion were made available as an immediate fiscal response.
As these eye-watering sums illustrate (and those associated with the banking crash in 2008 reinforce), dealing with a crisis is very costly, in economic terms as well as regarding social impacts. Therefore, where a crisis is foreseeable – as in the case of climate change and increasing biodiversity loss, societies should invest in preventative measures.
Science shows us that humanity’s impacts on the planet are intensifying and environmental trends are heading in the wrong direction. In response, there have been calls for systemic interventions from prominent international agencies including the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
These agencies recommend a rapid transition towards an economy that’s low-carbon, resource-light and that restores nature. They are promoting the need for a fundamental reform of our economic systems, so that equality, environment, and wellbeing become core to the way our economies function. It’s an agenda that has been endorsed by mainstream actors such as the World Economic Forum, the Financial Times and the Economist.
Many reports, ideas and proposals make the case for the required changes. What has been missing is a better understanding of how systemic change can be put into operation and, given the urgency and interdependency of the issue, how the UK can effectively support a fundamental transformation of its economic system towards a resilient economy.
This report is an attempt to fill this gap. The authors outline where public policymakers should place the emphasis in order to transform the world’s economic and financial systems most effectively to mitigate future environmental crises.