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Failing to Embrace Green Recovery Will Drive ‘Catastrophic’ Climate Change, C40 Cities Warns Governments

The world’s governments can cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030, create 50 million “good, sustainable jobs” by 2025, prevent 270,000 premature deaths in the next 10 years, and save US$1.4 billion in health costs by embracing a green and just recovery, the C40 Cities COVID-19 Recovery Task Force concludes in an analysis released Wednesday.

But “by ignoring the opportunity to make rapid green stimulus investments, most national governments and global institutions are likely leading us to catastrophic climate change,” the cities warn. So far, they note, no more than 5% of the $12 to $15 trillion in global pandemic recovery initiatives have been devoted to green measures.

“An accelerated green and just recovery will create more jobs, more quickly and deliver greater economic and health benefits than a return to business as usual can hope to achieve,” C40 declares. But “the most significant test of any government’s commitment to climate action right now is where it is directing COVID stimulus funding.” While a quick, decisive commitment to a green recovery “could finally put the world on track to keep global heating under 1.5°C,” most stimulus funding to date “is propping up old and polluting economies” that will blow through any realistic carbon target.

“If governments use stimulus funding to try to return to ‘business as usual’ before COVID, emissions will rise and runaway climate breakdown will be locked in,” the statement concludes. “It is only through a green and just recovery based on the principles of a Global Green New Deal—with a particular focus on urban priorities such as mass transit, clean energy, energy-efficient buildings, and walking and cycling infrastructure—that emissions will start to fall.”

The cities are calling on national governments to take action before they gather for the next UN climate conference in 2021. They urge countries to:

• Deliver a green, just recovery that will put humanity on track to hold average global warming below 1.5°C;

• Invest in cities to drive that recovery;

• End all public investments in fossil fuels;

• Pledge carbon neutrality by 2050, with interim targets that reduce emissions 50% by 2030;

• Embrace the principles of the Global Green New Deal.