Global lockdowns led to a record drop in carbon emissions from fossil fuels in 2020 – but as vaccines raise the prospect of a return to “normal life”, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that 2021 will bring a near-record increase.
The IEA’s executive director, Faith Birol, has warned that “the economic recovery from the Covid crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate”.
This might surprise those of us who thought governments across the world had pledged to use green investment programmes to stimulate economic recovery. But the latest data from The Energy Policy Tracker reveals that G20 Covid recovery packages favour fossil fuels over clean energy, with at least $291bn for fossil fuels, compared to $246bn for clean energy.
The US stands out as having committed the most money of any G20 country to unconditional fossil fuels (those that lack any requirement to reduce emissions). But much of this funding was announced while Donald Trump was still in office, and all eyes are now on Joe Biden.