Prospect of green focus for rescuing economies in danger unless swift action is taken, environment chief says

Governments around the world are failing to match their green rhetoric with action in rescuing their economies from the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN has warned, with prospects for a “green recovery” in danger unless swift action is taken.

Countries are spending an unprecedented $14.6tn (£10.5tn) on trying to prevent economic collapse, seeking to protect jobs and save businesses on the brink of ruin. However, a UN-backed analysis of 50 leading economies has found only $368bn, or about 18%, of the rescue spending so far can be regarded as green.

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN environment programme (UNEP), said: “Humanity is facing a pandemic, an economic crisis, and an ecological breakdown – we can’t afford to lose on any front. Governments have a unique chance to put their countries on sustainable trajectories that prioritise economic opportunity, poverty reduction and planetary health at once.”

Investing in projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions, restore the natural world or repair environmental damage can lead to strong economic growth and create jobs, in the short and longer term, according to research from the University of Oxford, which led the UNEP analysis.

Governments made plans for only $56bn of spending on projects involving the natural world, such as restoring degraded land, growing forests and protecting public lands. Experts say nature-based solutions can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, protect against the impacts of climate breakdown, for instance through flood prevention, and are a source of shovel-ready jobs.


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