Pandemic accelerates developments in sustainability from businesses and consumers
The queues were “absolutely crazy”, says Gavin Hudson, the owner of the cycle repair startup Butternut Bikes. As lockdown descended he began fixing old bikes in the parking lot of a Methodist church in north London, before moving his services to a furloughed pub in Crouch End. However, the surge in demand for cycle repairs meant the pop-up was soon able to afford a permanent address.
“Some people come in and tell us they haven’t been on a bike in 10 years,” Hudson says. “They are dragging all kinds of bikes, covered in cobwebs, out from the shed to get back on the roads. It’s great. I think it’s really true that there are few problems in society today that can’t be made better by getting people walking and cycling more.”
Butternut Bikes is one of countless British businesses poised to profit from a green economic boom in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While the government faces growing pressure to unveil a post-pandemic economic stimulus package that is climate friendly, Britain’s economic green shoots are already in evidence.
Steven Jennings, a partner at the global advisory firm PwC, says the lockdown has triggered a paradigm shift for consumers and companies that is already accelerating developments in sustainability – even without prompts from the government.
“One of the unintended consequences of the coronavirus crisis is the opportunity for businesses to think about the future. If a company has to rebuild itself, it makes sense to reconfigure how it works to be more sustainable,” Jennings says.
The challenge for the Treasury is to design a stimulus package that seizes the opportunities emerging from the coronavirus crisis, which can tackle large-scale climate challenges, too.