The UK must avoid lurching from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper climate crisis, the government’s advisers have warned.
They recommend that ministers ensure funds earmarked for a post-COVID-19 economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions.
They say the public should work from home if possible, and to walk or cycle.
And investment should prioritise broadband over road-building, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says.
People should also be encouraged to save emissions by continuing to consult GPs online.
The government will reply later, although the Energy Secretary Alok Sharma has already spoken in favour of a green recovery to the recession.
It makes a veiled reference to the current discussions over a potential government bailout to save jobs in aviation, which is struggling in the crisis.
The letter says: “Many sectors of the UK economy do not currently bear the full costs of emitting greenhouse gases. Revenue could be raised by setting or raising carbon prices for these sectors.”
Green groups say any bailout should include a condition that the industry shrinks until it finds a technological solution to its carbon emissions.
The letter also tackles broader social themes of fairness and risk.
It says the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted inequalities, with poorer people more in danger.
The committee notes: “The response to the pandemic has disproportionately affected the same lower-income groups and younger people – who face the largest long-term impacts of climate change.
“The benefits of acting on climate change must be shared widely, and the costs must not burden those who are least able to pay or whose livelihoods are most at risk as the economy changes.
“It is important that the lost or threatened jobs of today should be replaced by those created by the new, resilient economy.”
The committee says the government must produce policies that allow the UK to reduce emissions to Net Zero in an orderly way – unlike the chaos of the Covid-19 crisis.
The CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has shown the importance of planning well for the risks the country faces.
“Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air, and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy.
“The government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions.”