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How Green is global recovery spending?

The world’s governments have been spending more than 14.6 trillion dollars on ‘rescue and recovery” measures to deal with the economic and social devastation wrought by COVID-19. But only 18% of that money can be considered as ‘green’. The world is not on track to ‘Build Back Better’, according to a new comprehensive report produced by Oxford University’s Economic Recovery Project and the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP).

The organisations behind this important report also created a special data visualisation website – the Global Recovery Observatory - , where users can explore how good (or bad) their government is performing on greening after COVID. For the European Union, only five countries are in the ‘green quadrant” (amount of green investments versus total spending): Denmark (65% green spending) – Finland (58%) – Germany (47%) – Poland (40%) and France (35%).

National plans fail to halt climate emergency

In the run-up to this year’s COP26 meeting, the UNFCC has evaluated the impact of the national plans governments have announced to stem the climate emergency in line with their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. The synthesis report published in February shows that the national pledges of all countries that have reported up to now will only cut carbon emissions by about 2.8% relative to the commitments those countries took on five years ago.

The World Resources Institute has a good summary blog about this UNFCC report.

Just transition in the aviation sector

A new discussion paper on the future of the aviation industry investigates how long-term security for workers and affected communities can be guaranteed at a time when the climate emergency and the global pandemic raise fundamental challenges to the sector. The paper ‘A rapid and just transition of aviation’ was published by the action network Stay Grounded and the UK’s Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in February 2021.

Some of the policy measures proposed are:

  • Stop propping up the aviation industry with taxpayer money.
  • Down-scale the industry in line with a 1.5 ºC trajectory, including an end to subsidies and tax breaks for aviation, introducing a frequent flyer levy, and reducing airports and slots.
  • Create local, national and trans-national Just Transition Funds
  • Re-purpose aircraft manufacturing plants for producing goods of high social value like life-saving ventilators, wind turbines or trains. Recycle infrastructure and redeploy employees to railways and other decent climate jobs.

MEP report: companies to be held accountable for harming people and planet

The European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report calling for the adoption of binding EU law to make companies accountable when they harm human rights, the environment or good governance (e.g. tax evasion).

Rapporteur Lara Wolters (MEP S&D) said that a new EU law on ‘corporate due diligence’ in the companies’ supply chains will ‘ensure fairness, a level playing field and clarity for businesses, workers and consumers. UniEuropa welcomed the report stating it sends a strong signal for mandatory human rights in business activities and hoped the upcoming proposal from the Commission will also include a requirement for companies to involve trade unions at all levels.

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