EU COVID Recovery Plans Make Investments In Climate Change; China Remains in Neutral


The European Union announced an $825 billion recovery package for the coronavirus pandemic and it includes big plans to address climate change as intrinsic to its economic recovery. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen lived up to her promises to deliver a package that would help Europe toward making its 2050 carbon neutrality goal.  The Chinese are taking a different tack but it leads to a similar result — the Chinese government last week did not set post-pandemic economic growth targets for this year, which reduces the risk of short-term increases in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from a rapid ramping up of industry there.

Why This Matters:  Only when we shut down the economies of the developed world due to the life or death threat of the pandemic did we see global greenhouse gas emissions reductions necessary for the foreseeable future.  The EU is taking a responsible approach. The U.S. so far is not.  And despite its dampened economic ambitions, China is not stepping up to its climate commitments either. What the EU is doing is great, but not enough to lead the world.  The next global climate meeting has been delayed a year.  New U.S. leadership there is more important than ever.

Next Generation EU

The EU plan is called “Next Generation E.U.” and it expands on proposals from before the pandemic that President von der Leyen made for an E.U.-wide Green Deal last December when she assumed office.  It also builds on individual European nations’ plans for a “green” COVID recovery, such as France’s $8B investment to bail out its auto industry and become a leader in Europe’s electric vehicle production.  The EU plan is still in the formulation stage and makes only vague promises about investments in “clean technologies and value chains” and in renewable energy, energy storage, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage technologies. But some had hoped for a more ambitious agenda.

Recovery Plan Horse Trading In China’s Government

According to The New York Times, China’s recovery plans are not particularly green — though it remains unclear exactly how the $800B stimulus package will be spent.  However, it is clear that China is going ahead with building new coal power plants and relaxing environmental reviews of government projects.  One climate activist in China explained to The Times that  “horse trading” is occurring “among Chinese officials.”  There is concern that when it comes to China, the way ahead on climate will be very challenging and that the “Covid-19 should be interpreted as a very negative factor for international climate cooperation.”

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