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Press release: Greta’s ‘blah blah blah’ is spot on

Myth of a global green COVID recovery laid bare by policy tracker

By GEC · 05th October, 2021
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New research launched today shows that two-thirds of countries have no or minimal green recovery policies in place.

Analysis of 32 countries, and around US$11.1 trillion of economic support shows that only a small handful of rich countries are investing in a green economy as they emerge from the pandemic.

The research undertaken by the Green Economy Coalition confirms that Greta Thunberg's accusations that politicians are making empty promises to ‘build back better’ or kick start a ‘green economy’ in the wake of COVID-19 are well founded.

Sweden, France and now Spain are leading the race for a green recovery. Their recovery plans dedicate at least 40% towards low carbon infrastructure, applying environmental conditions to carbon-heavy industry bailouts and creating a green jobs programme for the long-term unemployed.

But even these leaders are preoccupied with one-off low-carbon projects and are shying away from the urgent structural changes needed to protect and restore nature at scale - including eliminating harmful subsidies and embedding biodiversity in economic plans, says the Green Economy Coalition.

Other high income countries such as Australia and Japan are falling well behind their economic peers on green recovery. Australia is still set on fossil fuel investment and Japan has next to no green recovery plans.

Middle and lower income countries by contrast are struggling to even begin greening their recoveries following mounting debt post COVID. Some of the most biodiverse hotspots in the world including Peru, Indonesia, Botswana, Malaysia and Brazil have little or no mention of nature in their recovery agendas.

“The global green recovery is failing to respond to the code red that people and nature are facing. The political class of 2021 are throwing us out of the COVID-19 frying pan and into the climate fire,” says Oliver Greenfield, Convenor of the Green Economy Coalition.

“Green recovery plans by a handful of countries aren’t going to be enough. We need to prioritise green economic policies across the board and when it comes to low income countries they will need financial support to do that. Justice demands that those who have done least to cause the climate crisis are given the help they need to play a part in the solution,” said Andrew Norton, Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, and co-founder of the Green Economy Coalition.

"Assessing the quality of governmental policies and strategies is essential to know if we are on or off-tracks in the critical journey towards green and inclusive progress. So far the results are rather disappointing and much more ambition and action is needed to face on-time the inter-related climate, biodiversity and social emergencies," said Jeremie Fosse, President of Eco-Union and member of the Green Economy Coalition.

The Green Economy Coalition urges multilateral agencies and government donors to redouble financial support to low income and debt-stressed countries, prioritising those that are doing credible green recovery planning.

They also stress that all countries put investment in biodiversity and natural capital into their recovery plans by targeting at least 30% of spending on nature-positive investment going forward.

Finally, the window for a structural green recovery is open, and all nations should present transformative green investment packages at COP26 to ensure the credibility of their revised nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The Green Economy Tracker offers an integrated policy roadmap on how to do so.

Data comes from the Green Economy Tracker, a tool used to benchmark how countries are transitioning towards greener, fairer economic systems, assessing progress and highlighting “best in class” policies that are already driving change towards a safer future. The 12 new countries analysed include Germany, Serbia, South Korea, USA, Ethiopia, Australia, Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Turkey, Indonesia and Japan. The tracker now looks at 32 countries in total, with analysis of 9 more countries coming soon. As well as green recovery, policies also focus on governance, nature, finance, people and different economic sectors.

Countries which scored highly in the green recovery showed cross-cutting and long term transformational policies, significant levels of green investment and green conditionality, plus attention to carbon, natural capital investment and inclusivity, green jobs and policies that support a just transition.

ENDS

For more information please contact Emily Benson, Director of Engagement emily.benson@greeneconomycoalition.org

The Green Economy Coalition is a global alliance of NGOs, researchers, institutions and think tanks that supports social dialogue, policy research and communications to accelerate the transition to green and fair economies.

The Green Economy Tracker is a publicly available online tool that draws on expert insight to assess countries’ progress on 20 key policies in five key areas, plus a unique policy to track recovery from the COVID pandemic. It rates the ambition of 32 high, middle and low-income countries, and the GEC plans to update it regularly and add further countries until it achieves full global coverage.

The Nature for Life Hub is co-hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It runs from the 4-6th October.

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