Jul 15, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Fossil fuels have upper hand in G20 coronavirus stimulus plans so far

An illustration of two smoke stacks that look like rolled dollar bills

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

G20 governments' pandemic recovery packages are steering much more funding to fossil fuel industries and energy-intensive sectors like airlines than "clean" energy, an Energy Policy Tracker project from several think tanks and activist groups shows.

Why it matters: International agencies like the United Nations and International Monetary Fund have been urging governments to prioritize climate-friendly energy in economic recovery packages.

By the numbers: According to the new database, thus far G20 governments' commitments provide...

  • $151 billion for policies "supporting production or consumption of fossil fuels."
  • Of that amount, only $30 billion comes with climate targets or new emissions requirements.
  • Meanwhile, $89 billion has been steered toward "clean" sectors like energy efficiency, solar and wind.
  • There's another $28 billion in the "other energy" category that doesn't fall into their "fossil" or "clean" taxonomy, such as " biofuels and hydrogen of unspecified origin."

Yes, but: Quartz points out an important caveat.

  • "This analysis only counts funding that has been officially committed. Stimulus funds that are still in discussion, like the European Union’s $850 billion green recovery plan, are not included," the piece notes.
  • The groups plan to update the tracking tool on a weekly basis as more recovery spending is approved.

The big picture: “National and subnational jurisdictions that heavily subsidized the production and consumption of fossil fuels in previous years have once again thrown lifelines to oil, gas, coal, and fossil fuel-powered electricity," said Ivetta Gerasimchuk of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

  • Her group launched the project with organizations including the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, the activist group Oil Change International, the Overseas Development Institute and others.
Go deeper