- Investing stimulus in green infrastructure and initiatives could deliver faster economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to new research from the C40 Global Mayors Recovery Task Force.
- The group of the mayors, representing 11 global cities including Los Angeles, New Orleans and Seattle, said investing recovery funds in the fight against climate change could create over 50 million jobs worldwide, delivering $280 billion in economic benefits from 270,000 premature deaths avoided in the next 10 years.
- The task force called on governments to end their subsidies for fossil fuels, and said they are "deeply concerned" that only 3%-5% of the estimated $12 trillion-$15 trillion in international stimulus is committed to green initiatives. Representatives of C40 did not respond to requests for further comment.
C40 Cities formed the COVID-19 task force in late April to prioritize public health, economic equality and climate amid recovery from the pandemic. At the time, the member mayors said they would identify how cities can best create new jobs while keeping emissions and climate change at the forefront of the discussion about recovery.
With C40 having previously voiced its support for a Global Green New Deal and backing a declaration to divest from fossil fuels, the task force warned that a new way of thinking is needed as cities look to stimulate their economies and invest in infrastructure.
"If governments use stimulus funding to try to return to 'business as usual' before COVID, emissions will rise and run-away climate breakdown will be locked in," the mayors wrote in a joint statement. "It is only through a green and just recovery based on the principles of a Global Green New Deal… that emissions will start to fall."
The task force said recovery investments should prioritize equity and inclusivity; protect and expand mass transit; and invest in clean energy and resiliency, while ending all public subsidies and investments for fossil fuels. The mayors said such a plan would reduce air pollution by up to 29% in cities worldwide, which could more than halve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and lead to over $1.4 billion in avoided healthcare costs.
Other groups have drawn similar conclusions about the importance of a green recovery from COVID-19. The Coalition for Urban Transitions, in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and C40 Cities, called in September for investment in a variety of areas, including in green buildings, clean mobility and renewable energy.
City leaders have been reckoning for months about what recovery will look like post-pandemic, and how various sectors of their economy will respond or change in light of the disruption coronavirus has wrought. With climate change a pressing concern for cities worldwide, the members said the time is right to act, especially as quick investments can enable action sooner.
"The time for small steps and half measures is over," the task force's joint statement reads. "The global disruption caused by the COVID pandemic may be our last chance to choose a different path."