Boosting the clean energy transition
can help our economies recover.
Blog by Molly Walsh, Climate justice
campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, originally published in Common Dreams.
2020 will be remembered as the year
the world hit pause on our daily lives and our economies in response to the coronavirus
pandemic. As our governments, here in Europe and internationally, consider how
to press play again, we must ensure that the economies we build back are
more resilient, fairer and less destructive of our planet.
After coronavirus, there should be no
return to ‘normal’ - because normal was already a crisis for many people and
for the climate. Whatever happens, our societies will be profoundly different
Large scale economic stimulus packages are being
discussed across the world.
Will the money address inequalities and help build the world we need? Or, just
like the last economic crisis, will it be big polluting businesses and CEOs
that win out again? https://t.co/LUQYE3GSSg
— Molly Walsh (@cinnamon_moll) April 28, 2020
Bailing out people or big business?
Political leaders in Europe have struck a €500
relief deal to help crisis stricken countries reboot their economies – amongst
dozens of other large-scale stimulus packages by governments. Our common future
will be shaped by how this money is spent. It must not lock in climate
People and our economies will need
massive relief. But will the money address inequalities and help build the
sustainable world we desperately need? Or, just like the last economic crisis,
will it be big polluting businesses and CEOs that win out again?
truly back a #GreenRecovery,
End all funding for fossil fuels
Invest in local & 100% renewable energy
Legislate to renovate decent homes for all #PCD11
— Friends of the Earth (@foeeurope) April 28, 2020
Polluting and failing industries must
not be bailed out
Fossil fuel companies - producing
climate damaging coal, gas and oil - should not get government support in this
crisis. The huge slump in energy demand has, astonishingly, driven some oil
prices into a historic negative, pushing fossil fuel companies to the
But this is an industry that is
primarily responsible for destroying the climate, and which must be phased down
in the coming decade. Part of the reason that they haven’t been leaving the
oil in the ground is that even oil companies fear that the end of fossil fuels
is in sight. They suspect they must sell their oil now before the world
switches to clean energy. And yet still they make demands for bail-outs.
For governments to give handouts to keep this damaging industry
artificially afloat now is an insult to taxpayers and the victims of these
We’ve already seen the companies’
wish-list being fulfilled in the United States with ‘backdoor bailouts’ in the
form of tax relief, the gutting of environmental protections, and more. But most of Europe has committed to being carbon neutral by
2050. Coronavirus or not, now is not the time for financing more
climate-polluting projects or companies.
Support should be given to the
workers in these industries in the form of training and the creation of new
jobs - but support cannot boost share prices, plump profits, or support executive
bonuses. Our way out of this crisis is not to prop up the industries that will
lead us into the next one.
Fossil fuel companies are queuing up for #coronavirus
cash. They must not be bailed out!
Let's instead direct recovery funds to the clean energy transition and rebuild
the fair, green society we need - @cinnamon_moll#FossilFree
— Friends of the Earth (@foeeurope) April 28, 2020
What should be supported
Using this moment to give a massive
boost to the clean energy transition could help transform our societies and
recover our economies. The shift to a zero-carbon world requires finance to proceed
fast enough to prevent climate breakdown.
Communities are helping each other
out in this pandemic. At the level of apartment block, neighborhood, and city,
let's encourage and support this powerful spirit and create funding for
communities to rebuild together. Community energy can help do just that.
Building an efficient renewable
energy system needs massive investment. From Germany to Spain there is
already a plethora of hard-working community groups who have created community
renewable projects. Many more are waiting to happen, but accessing finance is a
common barrier. This could be overcome by unlocking stimulus funding for
communities to build energy projects that create the clean energy we need,
provide jobs, and at the same time revitalize local economies. It has been demonstrated that locally-owned wind projects
bring eight times more local financial value to a community than
internationally owned projects. Funds should be made directly available to
local authorities - municipal involvement often improves effectiveness of
community energy projects.
The EU has promised a ‘renovation
wave’, to make Europe’s building stock highly energy efficient, but this needs
to be funded with public funds. 97% of European buildings are inefficient, and
renovating them will be expensive. But it has tremendous potential to improve
lives – particularly the most vulnerable – and create green jobs, and cut
carbon emissions. Damp and cold homes are damage health and wellbeing.
This is the right moment for
governments to end making consumers pay for the energy transition through
their energy bills - at a time when millions are struggling to pay these
bills. Instead, economic stimulus packages could help finance renewable energy
support schemes such as with well designed, progressive feed-in tariffs.
The International Energy Agency has warned that the coronavirus
crisis could significantly slow the energy transition; we must avert this
danger. Economic stimulus packages are a tool to get people back into work and
get our lives going again. But instead of just pressing play again, let’s hit
fast-forward to create the fair society and the green economy that we need.
Our new blog: Choices lie ahead for how we build back
our broken economies after the #Coronavirus
Let's build back more resilient, equal, greener, and more caring economieshttps://t.co/YlaGjym1Xz #COVID19
— Friends of the Earth (@foeeurope) April 7, 2020