The World's Economic Bailout Came With Huge Environmental Costs

The world collectively spent on $17 trillion economic stimulus during the pandemic. The vast majority of that spending will make climate change and other environmental pollution much worse.

July 19, 2021, 9:15 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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"Trillions of dollars poured into rescuing economies around the world from the Covid-19 crisis have been spent in ways that worsen the climate crisis and harm nature because governments have failed to fulfil promises of a 'green recovery' from the pandemic," reports Fiona Harvey, sharing the findings of an analysis published last week by Vivid Economics and the Finance for Biodiversity Initiative.

World governments collectively spent $17 trillion on economic stimulus and recovery programs since the beginning of the pandemic. The "Green Stimulus Index" estimates that only a tenth of that spending went to activities that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions or restore the natural world.

"Of the total spending, most went on emergency measures, such as wage payments, to keep economies afloat. But about $4.8tn of the spending, including outlays on road construction, bailouts for airlines, and boosts to food production, had a clear environmental impact," explains Harvey.

The article includes more details of the report's findings, and also includes an infographic that breaks down the environmental breakdown of stimulus spending by country. The country with the "greenest stimulus," according to the report, is Denmark. The United States decidedly in the red, for spending more on negative environmental outcomes, but is far ahead on the index of countries like Russia, Turkey, and Singapore.

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