In 2020 and 2021, the G20 group of the 20 largest economies spent at least US$14 trillion to escape the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — close to China’s annual gross domestic product. Much of that total, rightly, went to shoring up health-care systems, wages and welfare. But climate action was widely promised, too. Those promises have not been met.
Only 6% of total stimulus spending (or about $860 billion) has been allocated to areas that will also cut emissions, including electrifying vehicles, making buildings more energy efficient and installing renewables. Worse, almost 3% of stimulus funding has targeted activities that are likely to increase global emissions, such as subsidizing the coal industry.
Today’s green investments are proportionately less than those that followed previous recessions. After the global financial crisis in 2007–09, for example, 16% of global stimulus spending was directed at emissions cuts (or about $520 billion of $3.25 trillion in total).