Climate change can be avoided with just 10% of COVID-19 recovery packages: Study

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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According to a report published recently, the world could get on track to prevent climate change by spending a tenth of the planned $12 trillion in pandemic recovery packages to reduce fossil fuel dependency.

With the stimulus representing around 15% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), or three times the pledge since the financial crisis of 2008, scientists claim that the money could prove crucial in achieving the Paris Agreement’s 2015 temperature goals.

“It makes absolute sense not just to keep your economy alive with palliative care, but to restructure your economy so it’s future-ready,” Joeri Rogelj, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, and a co-author of the paper said.

The most ambitious goal in the Paris accord seeks to restrict the increase in global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius, which scientists claim will avert even more extreme disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, storm surges and floods.

According to the paper published in a journal named Science, the world will begin to put the goal within reach if policymakers used 10 percent of the proposed stimulus to fund climate-friendly initiatives such as renewable energy or energy conservation every year for the next five years.

Public and private investors will also need to cut investment in fossil fuel-heavy industries from a projected $1.1 trillion each year to nearly $800 billion over the next five years under current climate policies. This effort will be a part of guiding the global economy towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Unkept promises

According to separate research by Energy Policy Tracker, a nonprofit research project, found that although the European Union, Germany, France, South Korea and numerous others have vowed to support a low-carbon transition, governments have so far mainly used rescue packages to support business as normal.

The tracker listed $393 billion worth of government commitments to transport, buildings, power and extractive industries among the G20 countries. Of this total, $209 billion directly supports fossil fuel production and consumption while only $145 billion has been allotted to renewable energy.

“Public commitments since the pandemic are so far critically insufficient to meet Paris targets,” Ivetta Gerasimchuk, sustainable energy lead at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, who works on the tracker said.

Recently, the global financial institution World Bank had also faced scrutiny after a report uncovered that even after the Paris Climate Agreement it has invested more than $12 billion in fossil fuels, out of which $10.5 billion was direct funding for new ventures.

Paris Climate Agreement 

The Paris Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degree Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degree Celsius. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts. It was signed in 2016 by 195 countries.