$151 Bn for Fossil Fuels, Only $89 Bn for RE in COVID-19 Recovery Packages

$151 Bn for Fossil Fuels, Only $89 Bn for RE in COVID-19 Recovery Packages

A new report shows that total commitments for fossil fuels reached USD 151 billion from G20 governments, and only USD 89 billion for clean energy.

A new report shows that during the global pandemic, total commitments in support of fossil fuels reached at least USD 151 billion from G20 governments. Of which, only 20 percent made financial support conditional on green requirements, such as setting climate targets or implementing pollution reduction plans. While at the same time, only USD 89 billion has been committed to clean energy but a massive 81 percent of this support is unspecific about the appropriate environmental safeguards.

This data was made public recently on the Energy Policy Tracker, a new website tracking climate- and energy-related recovery policies. It will provide information about public funding commitments and other government policies related to the production and consumption of energy in the G20 countries since the beginning of the pandemic.

While rhetoric about the need for a green recovery has grown louder in the policy space, this data shows that, in reality, fossil fuel producers and high-carbon sectors, such as airlines, are currently receiving 70 percent more recovery aid than the clean energy.

“The COVID-19 crisis and governments’ responses to it are intensifying the trends that existed before the pandemic struck,” said Dr. Ivetta Gerasimchuk, IISD expert and the Energy Policy Tracker project lead. “National and subnational jurisdictions that heavily subsidised the production and consumption of fossil fuels in previous years have once again thrown lifelines to oil, gas, coal, and fossil fuel-powered electricity. Meanwhile, economies that had already begun a transition to clean energy are now using stimulus and recovery packages to make this happen even faster.”

It is interesting to note these figures because the G20 nations alone, are responsible for around 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and account for 85 percent of global GDP. With G20 governments committed to injecting over USD 8 trillion into the global economy, decisions made about how these funds will be distributed will lock in the world’s environmental footprint for decades to come.

Angela Picciariello, Senior Research Officer at ODI, said that “in spite of the great number of clean policies being approved by governments in recent months, the tracking system shows how the fossil fuel industry has continued to aggressively lobby policy-makers. This has resulted in some so-called conditional fossil fuel policies that nevertheless lock in dangerous emissions for decades to come. Nor is it always easy to distinguish clean from fossil fuel policies—the tracking system is important to identify the policies causing the greatest and often hidden, environmental damage.”

According to the data released today, committed support for clean energy amounted so far to USD 89 billion, but only USD 16 billion has been committed to support unconditionally clean energy such as solar or wind. “The recovery from the coronavirus crisis needs to result in an acceleration of the energy transition,” said Dr. Tom Moerenhout, Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. “If we miss that opportunity and embark on another fossil fuel-powered economic recovery—as was the case in 2008—then it is not likely but certain that our planet’s already high fever will turn into heatstroke”

“We are happy to see that China, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, and the U.K. have already approved some green recovery policies that provide lasting and decent green jobs,” says Dr. Satoshi Kojima, Principal Coordinator at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES). “Further efforts to mainstream this strategy are desirable.”

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.