Policy ForumClimate and Energy

COVID-19 recovery funds dwarf clean energy investment needs

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Science  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6514, pp. 298-300
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc9697

Summary

Governments around the globe are responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)–related economic crisis with unprecedented economic recovery packages (1), which at the time of writing surpassed USD 12 trillion. Several influential voices, including the United Nations (UN) secretary-general, heads of state, companies, investors, and central banks, have called for post–COVID-19 economic recovery efforts to be used to catalyze the necessary longer-term transformation toward a more sustainable and resilient society. Here we shine a light on the opportunity for these investments to support a green recovery by inventorying and classifying the latest information on governments' fiscal stimulus plans (1) and comparing the size of these measures to estimates of low-carbon energy investment needs compatible with the 2015 UN Paris Agreement. We show that low-carbon investments to put the world on an ambitious track toward net zero carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century are dwarfed by currently announced COVID-19 stimulus funds. But marked differences across countries and regions at differing stages of development emphasize the role that international support and global partnership must play to create conditions that enable a global climate-positive recovery.

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