Analysis released by the International Energy Agency on July 20 warns that 2023 is now on track to see the highest levels of carbon dioxide output in human history, equalling or surpassing the record set in 2018. Why? According to analysis based on the new IEA Sustainable Recovery Tracker , more than US$16 trillion has been spent on the COVID-19 recovery, but only 2% is going to clean energy investments. The report calls for first world countries and agencies such as the IMF to provide more sustainable financing so that emerging economies can improve their clean energy investment performance. The IEA Sustainable Recovery Tracker provides an exhaustive list of the green recovery programs for countries around the world, including Canada.
Also in July, Vivid Economics also released the sixth and final Report of their Greenness of Stimulus Index (GSI), which analyses the G20 countries plus ten other countries. Covid economic stimulus spending had a negative environmental impact in 20 of the 30 countries surveyed, and of the $17.2 trillion spent, only 10% had been spent on projects which could be considered green. Denmark ranked first, Russia ranked last, and Canada outperformed the U.S. in terms of positive environmental impact of the economic stimulus. The Vivid report is summarized by The Guardian here .
Others tracking the “greenness” of economic recovery, include Carbon Brief, and the U.K. Trades Union Congress, which published Ranking G7 Green Recovery Plans and Jobs in June 2021. That report includes Canada and the other G7 countries as comparators to U.K. spending, with a focus on the job impacts.
An early study from researchers at Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, was the influential academic paper in May 2020 : “Will COVID-19 fiscal recovery packages accelerate or retard progress on climate change?”
According to a September 13 press release from Trade Unions for Energy Democracy : “The annual congress of the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) has passed a historic composite resolution on climate change that supports the energy sector being returned to public ownership and democratic control. The resolution—carried unanimously—calls upon the 5.7-million-member national federation to work with the Labour Party to achieve this goal, as well as to: implement a mass program for energy conservation and efficiency; lobby for the establishment of a “just transition” strategy for affected workers; and, investigate the long-term risks to pension funds from investments in fossil fuels.” The “composite resolution”, Resolution 4, along with discussion and videos of the debate are here . The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) submitted the first resolution; the final composite resolution incorporated amendments by the Communication Workers Union, Fire Brigades Union, the train drivers union ASLEF, and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association.
A previous climate change resolution had been defeated at the 2016 annual congress. What was different this time? Speakers in the debate mentioned Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the chaos of Brexit, and also Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, fresh evidence of the disasters of climate change. Trade Unions for Energy Democracy credits the influence of the Labour Party, and in advance of the vote, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn received an enthusiastic response to his speech to the Congress. The Labour Party Manifesto, For the Many, not the Few , had been released during the 2017 General Election, and highlighted the issue of energy poverty, committing to “take energy back into public ownership to deliver renewable energy, affordability for consumers, and democratic control.” It further called for the creation of “publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and co-operatives to rival existing private energy suppliers.” Another influential document, “Reclaiming Public Service: How cities and citizens are turning back privatization,” was published in June 2017 by the Transnational Institute, providing global case studies of “re-municipalization” of public services, including energy.
The Trades Union Congress 2017 Congress website provides videos, reports, and an archive of documents from the meetings. This blog post summarizes the General Council statement on workers’ rights and Brexit.
Over 200 delegates took part in the TUC’s climate change conference, Green Growth: No Turning Back, on 21 October 2013. Videos of speeches and workshops are available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/node/118958.