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A fraction of global COVID-19 stimulus funds could aid climate change efforts

October 15, 2020

A modest fraction of worldwide COVID-19 economic stimulus package funds--which have surpassed USD 12 trillion to date--could help put the world on track to Paris Agreement goals for the climate, say Marina Andrijevic and colleagues in this Policy Forum. "Though challenging politically," they say, "our findings show that these solutions are well within budget." Several influential voices, including the United Nations, have called for COVID-19 relief funds to be used to build a more "resilient" society. Andrijevic et al. say that, "understandably," much stimulus relief is earmarked towards health and individual financial relief, but, they argue, investing modestly in transformative green energy systems--and scrupulously avoiding further investment in carbon-intensive fossil fuel industries--could boost employment, attract investors and increase society's resilience while providing clean energy in the process.To model how this may be achieved, Andrijevic and colleagues compared the size of global COVID-19 relief packages for over 100 countries, as determined from the International Monetary Fund's COVID-19 Policy Tracker, to estimates of low-carbon energy investment needs compatible with the 2015 UN Paris Agreement. They note that low-carbon energy investment needs under a Paris-compatible pathway are estimated at about USD 1.4 trillion per year globally, or 10% of the total pledged COVID-19 stimulus to date. To achieve long-term climate goals, recovery packages should incorporate the support of intergovernmental systems that are climate-focused, such as the Green Climate Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This can help in considering needs for recovery packages to encompass incentives, policies, taxes or rebates, mandates, and other supportive regulations that facilitate the achievement of long-term climate goals, the authors say. "The dual crises of COVID-19 and climate change are global problems requiring bold government action, international cooperation, and sustainable and inclusive solutions," said Andrijevic et al.
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American Association for the Advancement of Science

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