Governments must prioritise sustainable measures in post COVID-19 recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has evolved quickly from a health crisis into an economic one, leaving the global community faced with two pivotal challenges: economic recovery, and the climate crisis. Unlike comparable crises of the past, a heightened awareness of the benefits of sustainable recovery measures could enable governments and public institutions to address both challenges with a unified framework. This approach is necessary, with the alternative being the next generation inheriting crippling debt, in addition to a world burdened by the impact of climate breakdown.
Post COVID-19 recovery must prioritise sustainable growth, and sustainable infrastructure, and respect the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Given the energy sector is responsible for two thirds of CO2 emissions growth, investments must champion renewable energy, broad electrification and related infrastructure. Fossil fuel subsidies must be phased out, and private sector investment in low-carbon, sustainable-centred innovation must be incentivised.
Recent studies show green projects create more jobs and deliver higher returns (short and long term) in comparison to traditional stimulus programmes. Short-sighted recovery cannot apply to the current economic climate. Mobilising economic stimulation with short-sighted measures will only pave the way for a crisis of equal proportions in the future. To address one crisis by falling into the pitfalls of another would be a huge mistake.
Countries that have historically invested in sustainability, including the prioritisation of renewable energy and related infrastructure, will be at an advantage during the post COVID-19 economic recovery. These nations will have an amenable infrastructure in place for the integration of renewable energy, enabling them to secure higher levels of affordable, green electricity, and to move towards energy independence. These nations will also benefit from a healthy job market stimulated by historical investment in sustainable growth measures.