COVID-19 responses and recovery plans—the good news and the bad news

When the coronavirus pandemic began spreading across the globe earlier this year, many of us didn’t realise how much of our life would be affected. For weeks, the world has experienced a life on lockdown, shop closures and event cancellations. Stock exchanges were panicking, transport was moving in slow motion, and supply chains were disrupted, causing a fall in investment and consumption.

In many countries, the pandemic is already widening social and economic divisions, and deepening the consequences of inequality. While governments around the world are trying to prepare for what is expected to be the deepest recession since the Great Depression, a recent UN Policy Brief states the pandemic is also a chance for policymakers to take measures that will reduce inequalities in the long-term: “As countries implement fiscal stimulus packages, and potentially take the opportunity to strengthen ‘green’ sectors, new avenues for employment will be created, and must be matched with developing skills among those making the transition.”

We have selected a sample of important news emerging from this unprecedented crisis.

 

Strong voices for a green recovery

While the economic consequences of the lockdown offer a reminder that financial stress and insecurity are grinding daily realities for many people globally, leading figures are calling for action around regeneration. Christiana Figueres, Nicholas Stern and Paul Polman are among the signatories of a letter calling on government to scale-up nature based solutions, that is, solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, cost-effective, and simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits, and help build resilience (e.g. the restoration or protection of mangroves along coastlines). The group argues the coronavirus crisis has, for many people, “heightened our collective awareness of nature’s many benefits—from the tranquillity of the outdoors to clean air and water, natural resources, disease suppression, and the capacity to help slow climate change and protect us from its impacts.”

Mayors of major cities around the world are also planning for life after COVID-19, and some of them have decided to join forces and share knowledge and expertise to overcome the immediate health crisis and build a more resilient world. In a “statement of principles” published as part of the new C40 Economic Taskforce initiative, the city leaders are committing to putting greater equality and climate resilience at the heart of their recovery plans. A series of environmental initiatives are already being rolled out from Milan to Bogotá, New-York and Barcelona to ensure public safety and bolster the fight against climate breakdown. The statement warns the recovery from COVID-19 “should not be a return to ‘business as usual’—because that is a world on track for 3°C or more of overheating.” 

Nigeria has used the collapse in oil prices to remove fuel subsidies. The decision is thought to save at least $2 billion a year, at a time when Africa’s biggest crude producer needs funds to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Previous attempts to remove subsidies led to anti-government protests.

 

Priority to green building renovation in Europe

The EU economy will shrink by 7.4 per cent according to the European Commission, but this is not an excuse to backtrack on sustainable goals. In an online debate held on 6 May, European Commissioner Kadri Simson flagged the upcoming building renovation wave, rooftop solar and offshore wind as key priorities for the recovery phase: “In September, I will present the ‘Renovation Wave’, a plan to minimise potential regulatory barriers and stimulate a faster pace of building renovation across the EU,” said Simson. “We are aiming for hospitals, schools and SMEs as the first target areas for investment because these sectors are particularly affected by the crisis.”

 

What happens when the world looks away

While some countries are focusing on building a sustainable economy in line with the Paris Agreement or the European Green Deal, others are using the COVID-19 crisis to step back from green transition and human rights.

Climate Home News reported for instance that the South Korean government backed a $2 billion bailout of the country’s biggest coal plant manufacturer, despite promises to end coal financing: “State-owned Korea Development Bank (KDB) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea, the country’s export credit agency, have agreed to a package of emergency loans for Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction over the last month,” writes journalist Chloé Farand. The company is also aspiring to grow its gas business despite the fact the market was predicted to shrink and was already saturated with well-established competition, according to Joojin Kim, interviewed by Climate Home News.

On the other side of the planet, the government of Iván Duque Márquez in Colombia has declared a second “state of economic emergency” to allow the president to issue decrees without parliamentary consent. The President said the move was necessary to support workers and businesses hit by the pandemic. He added his government would subsidise the wages of workers, and businesses will be allowed to defer tax payments. From November 2019 to the end of January 2021, hundreds of thousands of Colombians demonstrated against various proposed economic and political reforms but unions striking in opposition to President Iván Duque’s policies have had to cancel public marches with the spread of COVID-19.

In Europe, the Bank of England (BoE) has decided to delay its proposed climate stress test due to COVID-19, saying participants needed more time to deliver the exercise within the original ambitious scope. The bank reaffirmed future climate risks requires action now, and climate change remains a priority for the BoE. Meanwhile, the BoE has warned the coronavirus pandemic will push the UK economy towards its deepest recession on record. Policymakers voted unanimously to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.1 per cent and the Monetary Policy Committee was split on whether to inject more stimulus into the economy. Two of its nine members voted to increase the latest round of quantitative easing by £100 billion to £300 billion.

 

EIT Climate-KIC’s COVID-19 Response: We believe the world needs a simultaneous, multi-dimensional response to COVID-19, to address both the devastating immediate impacts on people, health systems and economy, and longer-term considerations. This includes the need to act now to ensure economic recovery is aligned with climate and Sustainable Development Goals commitments as we consider ways to protect, reboot and regenerate economies. EIT Climate-KIC’s COVID-19-related communications will respond to all of these needs.  

Please visit our COVID-19 Response Hub for more information.

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 12: Foster bankable green assets in cities
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?

EIT Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Dunlop addressed the...

What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?
In The News
Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change

Starting today, the seventh edition of the global green...

Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change
In The News
Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution

Ensuring that fresh water is available, in a sustainable...

Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution
In The News
Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation

The European Commission released the new EU Climate Adaptation...

Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change

EIT Climate-KIC welcomes the new EU strategy on adaptation...

EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change
In The News
Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities

A labyrinth of cobblestone streets, dimly lit and presided...

Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities
In The News
Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neig...

EIT Climate-KIC is working with the city of Leuven...

Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neighbourhood
In The News
Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience

Start Park, a project led by citizens from Florence,...

Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience
In The News
New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners

Following its Open Call, the New Accelerator programme has...

New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners
In The News
New videogame builds climate awareness among players

Change Game, a videogame financed by EIT Climate-KIC and...

New videogame builds climate awareness among players
In The News
Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations

Carlota Mateos and Juan Vila, co-founders of PlenEat have...

Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations
In The News
Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio

EIT Climate-KIC supported Climeworks, a carbon capture technology, is...

Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio
In The News
Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs

The peer-to-peer learning platform for governments, Apolitical, included EIT...

Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs
In The News
New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture

Supported by EIT Climate-KIC and developed by its partner...

New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

EIT Climate-KIC will be taking part in the Climate...

EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
In The News
Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards ...

A total of 140 teams of citizen finalists applied...

Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards 2020
In The News
Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation

Joe Biden will be sworn in today as 46th...

Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition

It is no secret that to tackle climate change...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition
In The News
New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction

This week marks the launch of NoMuWood.com, an EIT...

New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction
In The News
European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action

On Wednesday 16 December, the European Commission is launching...

European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action
In The News
“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melissa Capcha. Five years on...

“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris
In The News
“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Gopal Kumar Mohoto. Five years...

“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”
In The News
“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz. Five years...

“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”
In The News
COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Kit England. Five years on...

COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”
In The News
COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melani Furlan. Five years on...

COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”
In The News
A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas

The SaferPlaces project, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has created...

A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas
In The News
Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region

The Glasgow City Region uses arts as a means...

Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region
In The News
Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition

EIT Climate-KIC, EIT RawMaterials, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT...

Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy

The World Circular Economy Forum brings together business leaders,...

EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy
In The News
Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery

Over 4,500 citizens from around the world will join...

Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery