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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Projects | IRI THESys | News | New Publication ‘COVID-19 recovery funds dwarf clean energy investment needs’ published in Science!

New Publication ‘COVID-19 recovery funds dwarf clean energy investment needs’ published in Science!

In their latest article, THESys researchers Marina Andrijevic and Carl-Friedrich Schleussner along with Matthew J. Gidden, David L. McCollum and Joeri Rogelj show that a fraction of the funds earmarked for COVID-19 recovery could boost climate efforts.

Governments worldwide are planning stimulus packages to boost the economy following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, more than $12 trillion USD have been pledged in such packages. This response is three times larger than the 2008-2009 global financial crisis recovery spending, and represents around 15 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

In their new analysis, the international team found that if just a tenth of the committed stimulus was invested into low-carbon energy systems every year over the next five years, the world could be put on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Though not all low-carbon energy investments are expected to be made, the study highlights the orders of magnitude between the stimulus packages and the investments needed to decarbonise energy systems.

“If just a fraction of this money was invested in climate-positive recovery plans, the world could achieve net zero carbon energy by mid-century,” says first author Marina Andrijevic, “This is not about diverting money from COVID-19 stimulus or other low-carbon investments in industry, research & development, but providing for the win-win solution of a boosted economy that simultaneously helps our efforts to stall climate change.”

The analysis also showed that addressing both crises will be easier for some countries than others and highlights the necessity for international collaboration so that a climate-positive recovery benefits everyone, everywhere. The US and the European Union have pledged the most in post-pandemic recovery, and also need to invest the least, relative to the size of their economies, in low-carbon energy to be on track to reach the Paris Agreement goals. Meanwhile, emerging economies like India have put forward less funding for pandemic recovery, but require proportionally more investments to provide their populations with reliable, clean and affordable energy.

In very concrete terms, the paper points at the window of opportunity to simultaneously address the climate crisis while restarting COVID-stricken economies. Dr Carl-Friedrich Schleussner adds “If governments make the right decisions at this crucial juncture, limiting warming to the 1.5 degree Celsius, the limit in the Paris Agreement, is still within reach.”


Find the full text here.