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Recovery plans are neither green nor fair to the poor, says Christian Aid

23 October 2020

PA

On the outskirts of Dhanbad, Jharkhand state, in India, last December, workers carry loads at one of the largest coalmines in Asia. The smoke comes from constant underground fires

On the outskirts of Dhanbad, Jharkhand state, in India, last December, workers carry loads at one of the largest coalmines in Asia. The smoke comes fr...

POST-PANDEMIC stimulus packages are at risk of increasing global inequality and jeopardising efforts to reduce climate change, Christian Aid has warned.

In a report released today, Whose Green Recovery?, the charity said that governments’ economic stimulus plans designed to aid reconstruction after Covid-19 were often just “rhetoric” that did little to help the most vulnerable.

Christian Aid says that that half a trillion dollars globally have gone towards supporting carbon-intensive industries, and that 70 per cent more aid has been given to businesses related to fossil fuels, such as airlines, than to their green alternatives. In the UK alone, more than £5 billion has been awarded to the oil, gas, and transport sectors without requiring a future commitment to becoming more sustainable.

Christian Aid said that recovery plans publicised as “green” made little provision for poorer countries that were trying to recover from the economic fallout. The danger inherent in this, the charity has said, was of poorer nations’ being left with only cheap fossil fuels to support post-pandemic recovery efforts.

Any climate gains already made are under threat, as well as the status of the Paris agreement and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November next year (News, 5 September), the charity says.

It recommends that countries from the G20 group cancel debt repayments for poorer countries, and that fossil-fuel subsidies be phased out, and that aid and export credits be used mainly to support renewable energy.

Furthermore, any financial support for carbon-intensive companies that are heavily reliant on fossil fuels should be given in exchange for proof of planning to transition to a net-zero carbon status in the near future.

Christian Aid’s climate lead, Dr Kat Kramer, said: “The zero-carbon investment plans such as home insulation, cycling infrastructure, and clean energy are needed, and very welcome, but what is also needed is support for the poorest and most vulnerable.

“We face the prospect of rich countries in the global North becoming cleaner, better connected, and cushioned from the economic fallout, while poorer nations are being left to fend for themselves.

“This massive cash injection designed to generate domestic economic growth, will likely see the gap between global rich and poor grow even larger.”

The director of the climate and energy think tank Power Shift Africa, Mohamed Adow, emphasised that the next steps would be crucial.

“Many developing countries are on the cusp of sweeping development over the next few years. They stand at a fork in the road. How these countries choose to rebuild from the pandemic will play a huge part in determining whether the goals of the Paris agreement are met.

“Without support from richer nations, there is a real danger that they feel there’s no other option but to follow the fossil-fuel path taken by Europe and North America during the last century.

“Covid-19 continues to be a grave tragedy, but the economic recovery is an opportunity to reset the world’s trajectory away from crisis, and model the kind of international solidarity needed to tackle the climate emergency.”

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