By Anders Lorenzen
Much has been made of the economic recovery which will begin once the world economy kickstarts again at the end of the current COVID-19 outbreak. Some have argued that fossil fuel companies, airlines and the tourism industry must be bailed out so they can stay afloat. Others have argued that the recovery should focus on green growth, which could involve not bailing those industries out, including the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The day after several EU environment ministers took out an op-ed in the climate news website Climate Home, the focus on a green recovery appeared to be gaining momentum. A group of over 200 ( a number that grows daily) political decision-makers, business leaders, trade unions, including people from some of Europe’s biggest corporations, campaign groups and think tanks have urged the EU to adopt green stimulus measures.
In a letter, the group said: “The transition to a climate-neutral economy, the protection of biodiversity and the transformation of agri-food systems have the potential to rapidly deliver jobs, growth … and to contribute to building more resilient societies.” Signatories of the letter include ministers from 10 EU countries, 79 EU lawmakers and chief executives from some of Europe’s biggest companies such as L’Oreal, IKEA, Danone.
The letter states that, as the fallout of COVID-19 could be worse than the 2008 financial crash, measures should be put in place to advance the EU’s landmark Green Deal policy package, which aims to bring the 27-nation bloc to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Last month European finance ministers agreed to support economies suffering from lockdown measures, however, left open the question of how to finance the recovery. As a result, the argument for a green recovery has intensified.
In separate developments, 10 EU countries including Germany, France and Greece, have signed an open letter urging the EU to ensure its rescue package supports the Green Deal. Additionally, some asset managers are also urging governments to put in place rescue packages that will accelerate a low-carbon transition.
However, heavy industrial economies in Eastern Europe, Poland and the Czech Republic still very reliant on coal to power their economies have asked the EU to ease climate policies in the wake of the pandemic.
The French EU lawmaker Pascal Canfin, one of the key people behind the letter said: “The Covid-19 crisis did not make the climate crisis disappear … If we relaunch the economy in the wrong direction, we will hit the climate crisis wall.”
Climate change advocates will be hoping that the focus on a green recovery will result in actual green EU recovery policies being adopted.