Blank cheque bailouts to polluters are not the way out of the pandemic
This week we heard encouraging messages from the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, an annual global meeting of environment and climate ministers.
In their video statements (how else?), leaders from across the world vowed to deliver a green recovery. Their message was clear: governments must design their pandemic responses in a way that will drive a transition to more sustainable, zero-carbon societies rather than propping up the polluting practices of the past.
But while our leaders seem to be saying all the right words when it comes to the green recovery, their actions often do not match these statements. Our Airline Bailout Tracker reveals how governments are willing to throw billions (currently at €26 billion, and counting) of government reserves or fresh debt – and ultimately taxpayer money – into saving airlines – with little or no environmental conditions. Airlines that pay no fuel tax or VAT and that made huge profits over the past years are asking the public to now share the losses. The sector is also one of Europe’s worst polluters, fuelling the climate crisis. Its emissions are very likely to rebound and continue on their unsustainable growth path after the pandemic is over if nothing is done. This is exactly the kind of business-as-usual propping up polluters that ministers at Petersberg Dialogue and elsewhere have said we should avoid.
Be it as it may, in the coming months and years, governments will spend trillions in rebooting our economies. If this money is spent wisely, it will allow us to emerge from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic stronger and more resilient.
One excellent target for investment would be the building sector. Europe’s building stock is mostly old, energy-inefficient, expensive to maintain and even unhealthy due to indoor air quality problems. It is also responsible for 36% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. There will not be a climate-neutral EU without climate-neutral buildings. Yet, it is often burdensome and expensive for inhabitants to renovate their homes. Simplifying administrative processes and facilitating access to funding would go a long way in improving the situation. This would bring safer and more comfortable homes, schools and hospitals and provide the kind of future-proof jobs that we desperately need.
- Press release: Airline bailouts set to double to €26bn as countries fail to impose binding green conditions
- Press release: Polluting European airlines seek €12.8 bn (and counting) in bailouts
- Publication: Airline Bailout Tracker
- Article: Building renovations can unleash future-proof jobs for a green recovery (PlanUp)
- Article: How the EU carbon market’s lesser-known cousin could help drive industrial transformation
- Video: EU carbon market turns 15!
- Article: ICAO’s carbon market report offers valuable lessons for Article 6 talks