COVID19 can be an accelerator of good says Samer Bagaeen, we can create a low carbon climate resilient economy that will create jobs and growth for the next thirty years.
We have the direction of travel before as laid out by experts across the economy. What we need to do is be mindful of the following:
The relationship between sustainability and value
We need more data for this one. Monetary added value resulting from energy efficiency improvements is not sufficiently considered in property valuation due to the tendency of valuations to lag behind other market trends. There is a dearth of quantitative information that would enable us to integrate & interrogate those aspects of sustainability relating to value into valuations in spite of UK government proposals, for example, to support decarbonising heat after 2021.
Net-zero transition & hydrogen
We must shift capital and shift investments towards transition activities and we should really look at the way that industry could shift towards zero emissions as quickly as possible. There is a hydrogen availability at the moment but this is expensive. Like solar and wind though, volume will drive down the price. Shifting industries to zero carbon will need large amount of hydrogen, and in the UK this could mean producing it overnight in the North Sea when we are not using it.
Attitudes are important
According Ipsos MORI, most of us in the UK are uncomfortable about going out. Restarting the economy will therefore be a slow process. Have messages from governments around the world been too successful in the fight against the coronavirus? This spears to be the case in the UK. The transition to a post lockdown economy will be crucial and will depend on the shape and form of that economy which, the Economist has recently called the 90% economy!
An economic crisis sitting behind the public health crisis
The economy will get worse before it gets better. Economists want us to be more comfortable if we are to get the economy going again. The Institute of Directors advises (April 2020) that we are not going to experience a V-shaped recession & recovery as some had been contemplating. The scarring to the economy is too great given the lockdown so best we can hope for is a staggered climb out of the trough. This will depend on the number of new virus cases, the number deaths declining, NHS capacity to deal with new cases, and which sectors open and how across the economy. Overcrowding and use of the transport issue will be problematic as will opening up and understanding supply chains.
The importance of systems thinking
When I started working in the field of resilience 6 years ago, resilience was a hard sell. Everyone saw the value but were reluctant to invest because it is about in vesting in the future rather the now Leaders now need to think of their country as a system that is comprised of smaller systems and is a part of larger systems that affect their country’s resilience. Global risks can have profound effects on politicians’ ability to govern, business-government relations, the efficiency of government spending and reform implementation, public trust, anti-corruption measures, and provision of services to improve business performance. Systems thinking can provide a foundation to assess resilience by considering a system’s – and a country’s – robustness, redundancy, resourcefulness of people and government (local & national), response to the crises, and recovery trajectory.
Facemasks: supply chain resilience
Assuming that supply chains can deliver facemasks, that’s going to be the accessory to have. Asia is slightly ahead of the rest of the world on this, and that’s not because 90% of the world’s face masks are produced in China! Pretty much everyone in Asia is wearing facemasks in spite of conflicting advice about this from the World Health Organisation.
First subsidies and now procurement rules including a push of state-owned motor companies mean more EVs coming onto the market, generated by state policies. We expect to see the cost of electric vehicle on a capex basis come down for consumers from 2023/4. What will cheaper oil mean for this growing market for EVs in the short term? Oil producing nations will protect their interests and behave in a way that could shift the trajectory of both combustion engine and electric vehicles.
Cllr. Prof. Samer Bagaeen FRICS MRTPI FRSA is Professor of Planning & Resilience at Kent School of Architecture and Planning, the University of Kent at Canterbury
WhenThisIsAllOver is the London Society's debate about what the post-virus, post-lockdown world will and should look like. Contributions so far include:
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