As governments respond to the economic fallout from COVID-19, there is a growing chorus of demands to “recover better”, ensuring that the trillions of dollars spent by governments on recovery packages are used to invest in a low-carbon and resilient economy. And there are some encouraging signals that leading governments and businesses are prepared to invest in sustainable plans.
“Recover better” was the focus of last week’s virtual meeting of the annual Petersberg Climate Dialogue that was joined by 30 ministers, together with UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, and UN Climate Chief Patricia Espinosa.
The two-day Dialogue concluded with a commitment from ministers to a green recovery built on solidarity and a continuation of work on ambitious NDCs in 2020.
In his Petersberg address, Mr. Guterres spoke of a “rare and short window of opportunity to rebuild our world for the better”, and asked all governments to prepare enhanced NDCs and strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in her Petersberg address: “By ensuring this money is directed at clean, green, sustainable and resilient investments, we can make incredible progress in the fight against climate change.”
Major international players including the European Union, the African Union (AU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), as well as international investment companies, are all calling for a climate-friendly response to the pandemic.
The calls come in a crucial year for climate action, given that countries are now preparing to submit new or updated national climate action plans, known as NDCs, under the Paris Agreement and that the response by governments to the pandemic will influence these and other plans.
The IMF made the case for a green recovery on the sidelines of the Petersberg Dialogue. As the institution gears up to lend around $1 trillion to governments hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the IMF is giving guidance on using the cash to tackle climate change: «When governments provide financial lifelines to carbon-intensive companies, they should mandate commitments to reduce carbon emissions”, said IMF Director Ms. Kristalina Georgieva.