Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the phrase ‘Building Back Better’ is everywhere, providing a framework for recovery from the world’s worst crisis in generations. One after the other, governments have pledged to act boldly coming out of COVID-19 shutdowns by focusing investments and actions on a green recovery. But that’s not happening. CO² emissions will rise dramatically, soaring to an all-time-high by 2023. We are not building back better.
(This post was previously published in Common Dreams.)
CO² Heading for All-Time-High
The International Energy Agency warned Tuesday that global carbon dioxide emissions are on track to soar to record levels in 2023—and continue rising thereafter—as governments fail to make adequate investments in green energy and end their dedication to planet-warming fossil fuels.
In a new report, IEA estimates that of the $16 trillion world governments have spent to prop up their economies during the coronavirus crisis, just 2% of that total has gone toward clean energy development.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, slammed what he characterized as the hypocrisy of rich governments that promised a green recovery from the pandemic but have thus far refused “to put their money where their mouth is.” Research published last month revealed that between January 2020 and March 2021, the governments of wealthy G7 nations poured tens of billions of dollars more into fossil fuels than renewable energy.
On top of being “far from what’s needed to put the world on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century,” Birol said that the money allocated to green energy measures thus far is “not even enough to prevent global emissions from surging to a new record.”
Only 2% of Post-Pandemic Investments Are Clean Energy
“Governments need to increase spending and policy action rapidly to meet the commitments they made in Paris in 2015—including the vital provision of financing by advanced economies to the developed world,” Birol continued. “But they must then go even further by leading clean energy investment and deployment to much greater heights beyond the recovery period in order to shift the world onto a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050, which is narrow but still achievable—if we act now.”