Exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global emission projections
Assessment of green versus non-green recovery

04-09-2020 | Rapport

This study published by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the NewClimate Institute assesses the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated recovery measures on emissions out to 2030 and global emission pathways towards meeting the Paris climate goals. Due to the high uncertainty surrounding the course of the pandemic and its impact on CO2 emissions, we only present ‘what-if’ scenarios, based on explorative calculations for several potential emission pathways and factors that could affect their course, including rebound effects.

The IMF economic scenarios published in April 2020 were used as the point of reference. Furthermore, we review and summarise the most recent insights (up to June 2020) published in the literature on post-COVID emissions projections and green recovery trajectories, and provide a framework for analysing the ‘greenness’ of recovery packages, using Germany as a case study.

Projected emissions for 2030 are uncertain and could even increase

For the longer term, our calculations indicate that the impact of the general slowdown of the economy would lead to an annual global emission reduction of –2.5 to –4.5 gigatonnes CO2  (–4% to –7%) by 2030, compared to recent pre-COVID policy projections, for IMF’s Baseline and Longer and New Outbreak scenario, respectively. However, in case of a rebound to fossil fuels, with lower decarbonisation rates, the 2030 emission reduction is projected to be smaller (–3.0 instead of –4.5 gigatonnes CO2 in the Longer and New Outbreak scenario) (–5%) or may even turn into an increase (+0.5 instead of –2.5 gigatonnes CO2 in the Baseline scenario) (+1%).

Framework for analysing the ‘greenness’ of recovery packages

Based on a classification defining ‘green’, ‘grey’ and ‘colourless’ measures, a pilot assessment has been conducted of the German Government’s EUR 130 billion fiscal stimulus package. ‘Green’ recovery measures account for approximately 31% of the package. Around 21% of the package is in line with the green measures defined by the International Energy Agency’s Sustainable Recovery Plan.