The impact of COVID-19 and recovery packages on emission pathways to 2030: Inputs to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2021 Final project report

02-06-2022 | Rapport

Globally, the opportunity to use COVID-19 fiscal rescue and recovery spending to accelerate the low-carbon transition has largely been missed so far: the share of low-carbon fiscal spending ranges between 0.5%–2.5% in studies considering both rescue and recovery spending and 18%–30% for studies considering recovery spending alone.

This report analyses the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated rescue and recovery packages on greenhouse gas emissions to 2030, focusing on three main aspects:

  1. What happened to activities and greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, and what are the preliminary estimates for 2021?
  2. How did the 2020 and 2021 emissions changes affect pathways through to 2030?
  3. What is the expected impact of fiscal recovery packages on emissions through to 2030?

Some of the key findings:

  • Based on currently available data, in 2021 fossil CO₂ emissions remained slightly below 2019 levels. However, oil use remained well below 2019 levels. This suggests, all else being equal, that emissions may rise again in 2022 as oil use continues to recover.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to lead to a reduction in global GHG emissions of 3.5 GtCO2 (equivalent to 9%) by 2030 compared with pre COVID-19 estimates.
  • The majority of the emissions reductions come from the energy supply sector (2 GtCO2 , 9%), followed by the industry sector (1 GtCO2, 12%) and transport sector (0.5 GtCO2, 6%).
  • Almost two thirds of the low-carbon spending (totaling USD 641 billion) can be classed as enabling and catalytic low-carbon measures.
  • The report points to severe of shortcomings with regard to climate considerations, and especially the focus on the low-carbon transition in governments’ fiscal responses to the global pandemic. The report shows that fiscal rescue and recovery spending since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 have only partially been reflected in governments’ pledges to stage a “low-carbon recovery”.