The charity Tearfund published a report (in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute and the International Institute for Sustainable Development) that shows how governments have piled money into car and aviation industries throughout the pandemic, despite green rhetoric.
The charity deliberately made the research available ahead of the G7 summit (taking place in the UK) to show how G7 countries are spending billions of dollars less on green energy than fossil fuels – in hopes that they’ll rectify the situation.
The G7 consists of the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. These countries combined have committed only $147bn on clean energy forms but $189bn to support oil, gas, and coal from January 2020 to March 2021. This makes you wonder: what about all their promises of a green recovery?
The bulk of this funding went to the transportation sector by approving large bailout plans for the car and aviation industries during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report reads:
Investments in the transport sector remain significantly skewed towards fossil fuels and are at odds with G7 commitments to build back better.
Among the companies to receive a bailout were: Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, EasyJet, Honda, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Renault, and Ryanair. Since delivering on these bailouts, some of the G7 countries increased their clean energy commitments in electric vehicles and rail. However, the financial support to the highly polluting sectors will sustain the dirty companies for decades to come. Unfortunately, the bailouts came with minimal to no pressure for the companies to go green.
Only 17% of the commitments to fossil fuel-intensive sectors had “green strings attached,” while the other 83% didn’t include any pollution reduction requirements or climate targets. This represents a significant opportunity loss for the nations. They missed a chance to make their response to the pandemic greener.
The report said that funding based on green conditions should have been the minimum approach. Instead, only one in ten dollars dished out to the pandemic response benefited the cleanest energy measures.
The US and Canada, both major oil and gas producers, propped up that sector noticeably more than the rest of the countries. They also rolled back or removed environmental regulations on fossil fuel companies.
The analysis reveals that the actions of the top western economies in the last 15 months are insufficient – their investments in technologies that support the fast decarbonization of their economies aren’t enough to avert climate catastrophe. Furthermore, they haven’t created a green job in response to COVID-19 at scale.
Paul Cook, Tearfund’s head of advocacy, said:
Every day, we witness the worsening consequences of the climate crisis for communities around the world – farmers’ crops failing; floods and fires engulfing towns and villages; families facing an uncertain future. Choices made now by the G7 countries will either accelerate the transition towards a climate-safe future for all or jeopardize efforts to date to tackle the climate crisis.
The G7 nations represent 10% of the world’s population but are responsible for nearly 25% of CO2 emissions, making them among the most polluting in the world. What these countries do will likely dictate the fate of us all.