How Economic Rescue Plans Can Set The Global Economy On A Path To Decarbonisation

How Economic Rescue Plans Can Set The Global Economy On A Path To Decarbonisation Fuyu Liu/Shutterstock

As states contemplate how to restart the global economy after the pandemic, it’s important to remember that we’ve been here before. The global financial crisis of 2008 didn’t cause as much social and economic harm as COVID-19 has, but it did force governments around the world to intervene in the economy, to limit the fallout from the crash.

Vital though these interventions are, states need to consider what a post-pandemic economy looks like. If handled correctly, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a system that’s fundamentally fairer and more sustainable.

That would mean ensuring that climate action is baked in to stimulus packages and bailouts. There were similar ideas floated in the wake of the 2008 crash, but they only amounted to investments in green energy and infrastructure of around 16% of total fiscal stimulus spending.

Given the mounting urgency of the climate crisis, a post-pandemic recovery programme would need to be much more ambitious, ensuring a planned retreat from fossil fuels that reallocates employment into secure and socially useful work, while also making the global economy and supply chains more resilient to inevitable future shocks.

A post-COVID green new deal

Before COVID-19, momentum around the world had been building for “a green new deal” – a programme of state-led investment to rapidly reduce emissions and economic inequality by creating green infrastructure and jobs.

Amid the recent turmoil, investors are looking for safe assets. Governments could finance a green overhaul of the economy by encouraging them to invest in low carbon infrastructure through “green bonds”. These could be issued directly by central governments, or through national or regional green investment banks. That investment could help transform the electricity system to integrate renewable energy generation, roll out charging points for electric vehicles, and build cycle networks and low-carbon housing.

With the nine-to-five rhythm of the weekday grinding to a halt, the lockdown has affected profound changes in energy demand. While the UK approaches its record for the number of days without generating energy from coal, now is a good time to restructure national electricity grids away from a centralised model, with fossil fuel power plants radiating energy outwards, to a model where energy generation is distributed among many sources of solar and wind, like rooftop photovoltaic panels and community-owned wind farms.

How Economic Rescue Plans Can Set The Global Economy On A Path To Decarbonisation The pandemic could profoundly reshape global energy supply. Zbynek Burival/Unsplash, CC BY-SA

The fossil fuel industry was already struggling before nationwide lockdowns caused a crash in consumer demand. States should end the subsidies propping up the industry and re-allocate that money to research and development funding for battery storage technologies and clean energy. Given how weak the sector is – with oil prices plumbing new lows each day – states could buy oil and gas companies out and take their reserves into public ownership, effectively keeping those fuels in the ground. Displaced workers could be compensated and retrained, which has happened in the Spanish coal industry.

The pandemic has also exposed the fragility of the UK’s food supply, with its limited storage capacity, a just-in-time supply model, and dependence on imported food. Suddenly we’ve realised the social and environmental absurdity of flying and driving much of our food from big producers far away.

Many people have taken the initiative during this crisis to support small businesses and buy food from local suppliers. Economic stimulus measures could build on this by ensuring large public sector organisations that are anchored within communities, such as councils, colleges or hospitals, source their food from local producers. The Preston model of “re-localising” economic activity shows how it might be done.

How Economic Rescue Plans Can Set The Global Economy On A Path To Decarbonisation Encouraging local food supply chains could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rejuvenate small businesses. Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

While many people are stuck in their houses, thoughts have inevitably turned to home improvement. It wouldn’t cost a great deal for governments to roll out a mass home insulation effort after the crisis, targeting households which are struggling most with fuel poverty first. This would pay for itself in energy savings, and warmer homes would improve the health and well-being of many, while also creating green jobs that can’t be outsourced.

Despite the numerous declarations of “climate and ecological emergencies” in 2019, the pandemic of 2020 has shown what a global emergency looks like in real time – and how public resources can be leveraged to rapidly deal with it. While green investment and climate action were afterthoughts in post-2008 economic recovery programmes, they must be the guiding principle behind rebuilding the economy after the pandemic.

About The Author

John Barry, Professor of Green Political Economy, Queen's University Belfast

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer
9780143130444In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. Available On Amazon

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy

by Hal Harvey, Robbie Orvis, Jeffrey Rissman
1610919564With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions is nothing less than urgent. It’s a daunting challenge, but the technologies and strategies to meet it exist today. A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well. Available On Amazon

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

by Naomi Klein
1451697392In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

LATEST VIDEOS

Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
kelp forrest 7 12
How The Forests Of The World’s Oceans Contribute To Alleviating The Climate Crisis
by Emma Bryce
Researchers are looking to kelp for help storing carbon dioxide far beneath the surface of the sea.
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
by Ken Buesseler
The ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. The driving force comes from tiny plankton that produce…
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
by Gabriel Filippelli and Joseph D. Ortiz
“Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil” is not what anyone wants to hear about their city’s tap water. But the combined effects of…
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
by Gregg Howe and Nathan Havko
For millennia, insects and the plants they feed on have been engaged in a co-evolutionary battle: to eat or not be…
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
by Swapnesh Masrani
Ambitious targets have been set by the UK and Scottish governments to become net-zero carbon economies by 2050 and 2045…
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
by Theresa Crimmins
Across much of the United States, a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception.

LATEST ARTICLES

Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
by Ann Rowan
In the world of glaciology, the year 2007 would go down in history. It was the year a seemingly small error in a major…
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
by Edward Lempinen
By the end of this century, tens of millions of people could die each year worldwide as a result of temperatures rising…
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
by Janet Stephenson
A proposed multibillion-dollar project to build a pumped hydro storage plant could make New Zealand’s electricity grid…
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
by Guaduneth Chico et al
Wind power in the UK now accounts for nearly 30% of all electricity production. Land-based wind turbines now produce…
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
by Stuart Capstick
In new research, we have identified what we call 12 “discourses of delay”. These are ways of speaking and writing about…
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
by Gunnar W. Schade
If you’ve driven through an area where companies extract oil and gas from shale formations, you’ve probably seen flames…
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
by Avit K Bhowmik
Europe’s major airlines are likely to see their turnover drop by 50% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,…
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
by Steven Sherwood et al
We know the climate changes as greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the exact amount of expected warming remains…