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The post-Covid economic recovery, a missed opportunity for the planet?

 The post-Covid economic recovery, a missed opportunity for the planet?

If containment measures have significantly reduced global CO2 emissions in 2020, the economic recovery could deal a serious blow to the fight against global warming.

Marked by a pandemic and unprecedented restriction measures, the year 2020 also saw successes in the climate field. From this point of view, my benefits of containment are undeniable, as the Global Carbon Project points out. In its December 10 report, the international consortium of 86 researchers predicts a record drop of 7% in global C02 emissions this year, which "are expected to decline by around 2.4 billion tonnes".  

Transport, industry ... less polluting emissions during confinement

Thus, it is the transport sector, one of the most polluting (21% of global emissions), which halved its emissions in 2020, the largest drop recorded. 'At the start of December 2020, emissions from road transport and aviation were still below their December 2019 levels, by around 10% and 40%', observes in particular the Global Carbon Project. Next comes industry, responsible for 22% of emissions worldwide, which has reduced its emissions by 30% "in the countries at the height of confinement". Emissions from electricity production (44% of emissions) have been reduced by 15% and the building sector has not significantly reduced its CO2 emissions this year."The reduction in emissions in 2020 seems more pronounced in the United States (-12% 1), in the EU-27 (-11%) and in India (-9%)", further advances the organization, but " less pronounced in China (-1.7%), where the restrictive measures were taken at the start of the year and were more limited in time ". 

... but a recovery that promises to be too gray

After this sharp drop caused by the health crisis, what will happen to the recovery? Will the economic recovery plans give pride of place to green energies or - as a matter of urgency - give more weight to fossil fuels? The first studies tend to favor the second scenario. 14 research institutes have thus set about studying the various recovery plans of the most developed States and their conclusion is far from encouraging. Under the Energy Policy Tracker project, they observe that the G20 countries have announced at least 234 billion dollars of investment in fossil fuels, against 151 billion in clean energies.'These large-scale spending will shape the global economy for decades to come'. They could generate unbearable climate disasters, or create a healthy economy driven by a clean economy," warn these 14 institutes. 

China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, thus recorded in the first half of the year the construction of the equivalent of 17 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations, much more than in the previous two years. "Coal has no place in the recovery," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned in July. The United Nations has warned leaders of the environmental dangers that would result from poor policy choices. According to the UN Environment (UNEP) Production Gap Report, "government responses tended to intensify models that existed before the pandemic: those who heavily subsidized fossil fuels increased their support, and those who had more commitments. strong towards clean energies are using the stimulus to accelerate this transition.

As for the United States, the second most emitting country of greenhouse gases, they have allocated around 70 billion dollars to fossil fuels. An investment which could however be revised downwards following the election of Joe Biden to the White House. Thus, the Democratic campaigning candidate had promised $ 2,000 billion over four years for low-carbon infrastructure. 

 In an interview with LCI carried out after the 1st containment, François Gemenne, researcher member of the IPCC feared that on the occasion of the recovery plans, "we will extend the life of fossil energy for a few more years and we will not refer to later a whole series of concerns for the climate ". The first figures therefore seem to prove him right. Yet there is a real urgency to get into the nails of the Paris Agreement, which wants to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 ° C before 2100: despite this historic drop in CO2 emissions, the world is still heading for a warming of more than 3 ° C by the end of the century, according to the UN.

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