Open letter to Boris Johnson

Monday, 27 July 2020

Dear Prime Minister,

The last few months have been some of the hardest this nation has faced in decades. We have experienced the devastation of losing loved ones, the exhaustion of caring for and educating our kids 24/7, the anxiety of losing a job, and the heartache of being unable to see our families and friends.

We understand the urgent need to get our ailing economy back on its feet. Young people – our children – have been most likely to lose their jobs or see their income drop during  lockdown, and youth unemployment in the UK is predicted to hit one million by the end of the year.

We also know that we can’t build our way out of one disaster by supercharging the next. If climate emissions are allowed to rebound to pre-pandemic levels the consequences for our children’s lives and livelihoods will be catastrophic – and it is children from the poorest and most disadvantaged communities here in the UK, and across the globe, who will be hardest hit. Put simply, we cannot afford to slide back into fossil fuelled business as usual. 

Across the UK there is a huge appetite for change with one poll suggesting just nine percent of people want to go back to how things were. Pressing the restart button on the unsustainable, unequal, and racist systems of the old normal is no longer an option. We need to build back better economies which put the wellbeing of all people and the planet first.

The good news, as you know, is there does not have to be a trade-off between creating jobs now and building a fairer, safer world for all our children. Investing in a low carbon recovery will create more and better jobs, now and in the future, than can be achieved rebuilding an outdated fossil fuel economy. Millions more decent jobs could be rapidly created across the UK through a nationwide programme of insulating homes, installing electric vehicle charging  points, re-establishing woodlands, and boosting the roll out of renewable energies.

A green and just economic recovery can also lock in the silver linings of lock down that people want to hold onto for themselves and their children. The healthier lifestyles that come with cleaner air, safer streets, and a renaissance in cycling and walking, the connections we have made within our local communities, and the re-emergence of nature in our towns and cities.

As economists, business leaders, scientists, actors, faith and belief leaders, charity leaders, trade unionists and educators and above all as parents, we are committed to playing our part. But we need your leadership to spearhead the changes that are needed. We need a commitment that public money will not be used to bail out high carbon industries, but invested in building a thriving, fair and low carbon economy that will put the UK at the forefront of a post COVID-19 recovery.

This brutal pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to rethink and reset. To pull back from the dangerous fossil fuelled charge towards climate disaster and move – full speed ahead – to a brighter new tomorrow for all.  For the sake of all our children, please don’t waste it.

Yours sincerely,


Sally Abbott, screenwriter; Robyn Addison, actor; Dr Husna Ahmad, Secretary-General of the World Muslim Leadership Forum; Professor Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science, University of Oxford; Rakie Ayola, actor; Hafsah Aneela Bashir, writer, and Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow; Tamara Beckwith, Co-founder of the Lady Garden Foundation; John, The Lord Bird MBE, Founder of The Big Issue (crossbench peer); Dr Sunil Bhopal, Paediatrician & Epidemiologist, Newcastle University & London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Lliana Bird, broadcaster; Michelle Bonnard, actor; Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, General Secretaries, National Education Union (NEU); Laurie Brett, actor; Deidre Brock MP, SNP; Sir Hugo Brunner KCVO; Professor Simon Caney, Professor of Political Theory, University of Warwick; Dr Ellie Cannon, GP and broadcaster; Gretchen Castle, General Secretary, Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers); Dr Ronny Cheung, Consultant Paediatrician; Lily Cole, actor; Dr Elizabeth Cripps, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory (Climate Justice), University of Edinburgh; The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford; Jane Davidson, author of ‘#futuregen: lessons from a small country’; Oliver Dimsdale, actor; Carol Ann Duffy, poet laureate and playwright; Charlotte Emmerson, actor; Miatta Fahnbulleh, CEO, New Economics Foundation; Paloma Faith, singer/songwriter; Professor David Farrier, Chair in Literature and the Environment, University of Edinburgh; Professor Neil Ferguson, Director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious and Disease Analysis; Dr. Miriam Fine-Goulden, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care; The Rt Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading; Livia Firth, Founder Eco-Age; Giovanna Fletcher, author, presenter, actor and blogger; Baroness Martha Lane Fox, Founder of and cross-bench peer; Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Loughborough; Dame Lesley Garrett, opera singer and broadcaster; Ed Gillespie, environmental entrepreneur, speaker, futurist, and author; Iain Glen, actor; Clara Goldsmith, Campaigns Director, The Climate Coalition; Chris Goodall, businessman, author, and expert in new energy technologies; Mini Grey, children’s author, and illustrator; Sienna Guillory, actor; Stephen Hale, Charity CEO of the Year; Kate Hampton, CEO, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; Melanie Hill, actor; Gwen Hines, Director of Global Programmes, Save the Children; Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat; Sophie Holland, casting director; Brady Hood, director; Konnie Huq, broadcaster and writer; Harini Iyengar, Women’s Equality Party, lead Greater London Assembly candidate and barrister; Lucy Jones, author, and journalist; Dr Terence Kemple, Former President of Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), 2015-2017 & RCGP Representative for Sustainability, Climate Change and Green Issues; Lorraine Kelly, broadcaster; Fazlun Khalid, Founder, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences; Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, Founder & Executive Director, Ella Roberta Family Foundation; Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party; Priya Lukka, development economist; Mark Lynas, author and journalist; Emma Manton, actor; Catherine Mayer, co-founder and president, Women’s Equality Party; Jojo Mehta, Stop Ecocide; Kate Metcalf, co-director, Women’s Environmental Network; Michael Morpurgo OBE, children’s laureate, author, poet, playwright; Dr Lesley Morrison, retired GP, and Medact Scotland Coordinator; Gemma Mortensen, Co-Founder, More in Common; Tracy-Ann Oberman, actor; Professor Tim O’Riordan, British Geographer and Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences at UEA; Tamzin Outhwaite, actor; Chris Packham, naturalist, TV presenter and author; Helen Pankhurst CBE, writer, activist and special adviser on gender equality for CARE; Sara Pantuliano, CEO, Overseas Development Institute; Trupti Patel, President, Hindu Forum of Britain; Heather Peace, actor, and musician; Paul Polman, Chair, International Chamber of Commerce; and former Unilever CEO; James Purefoy, actor; Kate Raworth, economist, and author of ‘Doughnut Economics’; Professor Dave Reay, Chair in Carbon Management & Education, University of Edinburgh; Executive Director at Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation; Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party; Jon Richardson, comedian; Tom Rivett-Carnac, author of The Future We Choose (with Christiana Figueres); Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary, NASUWT,  the Teachers’ Union; Alice Roberts, President, Humanists UK; Dr Damian Roland – BMBS FRCPCH PhD Honorary Associate Professor in Paediatric Emergency Medicine; Jemima Rooper, actor; John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace; Kellie Shirley, actor; Sir Tim Smit, co-founder Eden Project; Alex Sobel MP, Labour; Professor Julia Steinberger, Professor of Social Ecology and Ecological Economics, University of Leeds; Juliet Stevenson, actor; Mark Stevenson, entrepreneur, author, and futurist; James Strong, director; Nima Suchak, ISKCON Leicester; Zoë Tapper, actor; Avnish Thakrar, UK Campaigns Coordinator, The Bhumi Project; Dr Ruth Valerio, Global Advocacy & Influencing Director, Tearfund; Sophie Walker, Chief Executive, Young Women’s Trust; Stewart Wallis, Wellbeing Economy Alliance, Executive Chair; Julie Walters, actor; Yusra Warsama, actor and writer; Sarah Welsh, Debs McCahon and Sapna Agarwal, Woodcraft Folk; The Rt Revd Dr Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking; Revd Dr Sam Wells, vicar, St-Martin-in-the-Fields; Dame Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and businesswoman; Professor Gail Whiteman, The Rubin Chair in Sustainability in Business and Professor-in-Residence at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Canon Guy Wilkinson CBE, Faith for the Climate; Roderick Williams OBE, baritone; Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury; Professor Rebecca Willis, Professor in Practice at Lancaster Environment Centre and expert lead for Climate Assembly UK; Professor Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London; Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Co-Founder, Eco Synagogue; Professor Jonathan Wolff, Alfred Landecker Professor of Values and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford; Farhana Yamin, Lawyer and Founder of Track 0;