The announcement in yesterday’s budget of a green investment bank is a welcome recognition of the urgent need to put money behind a push for a low carbon economy. We desperately need investment in greener transport, more renewable energy, and refurbishment of the housing stock to provide better home insulation and heating systems. But we must also invest in soft engineering solutions, in improving our green infrastructure – trees and green space – as a way of moving towards a low carbon economy.
Trees in urban areas can reduce building energy costs through shelter in the winter and shade in the summer – bringing down heating bills and cutting the need for air conditioning. By reducing urban heat island effect – which happens when the hard surfaces of urban areas absorb heat during the day and then release it at night like giant storage heaters – green infrastructure not only cuts energy costs for cooling, but improves air quality and reduces premature deaths brought on by summer heat waves.
And while they are doing this, urban trees are also absorbing carbon, intercepting particulates and other air borne pollution, intercepting rain and reducing the risk of surface water flooding, supporting biodiversity and making our towns and cities pleasant places to live and work.
Yes, more money for green technologies, but there is also a desperate need to invest in urban trees and green infrastructure if we are to adapt to a changing climate and move to a low carbon economy. Let’s hope the new green investment bank recognises this.
In our 2010 manifesto ‘Growing the Future’, the Woodland Trust is asking all the political parties to understand how important native woods and trees are for all of us, and recognise how they really can help us to tackle the major challenges we are facing. Use our new quick-click online tool to demonstrate your support for the Woodland Trust.