Economic stimulus packages should benefit people and the planet

The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded swift and unprecedented action from governments worldwide. The depth and severity of the crisis, and the scope of the response, has seen billions of euros of public investment and rapid financial support from governments across the globe.

Upon navigating such unprecedented times, we should, however, keep in mind that choices being made right now will shape our society for years, if not decades to come.

It is important that money given to alleviate the ongoing corona crisis is also used to work towards the avoidance of future crises and on building a more resilient society. This money should in no way been used to bail out climate-wrecking industries or technologies of the past.

As lockdowns are slowly lifted we don’t just need to restart the economy – we need to rebuild it, and there’s never been a better, or more important time to step up action for our health and environment. COVID-19 has forced the world into an economic pause. Now, we have the power to use this opportunity to restart our economy with a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy across all sectors. Such investments are both labour-rich and shovel-ready.

In light of these ongoing discussions, EKOenergy joined the #Eugreenrecovery initiative of WindEurope, SolarPower Europe, the European Heat Pump Association and many others. The #EUgreenrecovery coalition calls upon decision-makers to:

  • Fully integrate the promised economic stimulus packages in the Green Deal. Investments in a zero-carbon infrastructure and innovative solutions are the best and most cost-effective route to economic recovery on a national and supranational level while at the same time preparing the grounds for a secure and sustainable energy system.
  • Use the stimulus packages to accelerate investments in energy efficiency, renewable heating and cooling, electricity, mobility, zero-carbon buildings, and industrial processes.
  • Ensure that an ongoing supply of clean energy and ongoing investments in the energy transition can continue in the current pandemic under the classification of essential services.

EKOenergy also supports the #NoBigOilBailout – campaign, launched by a large group of civil society organisations. Many of the issues raised by this campaign, as well as those highlighted by the wider People’s Bailout initiative, are very similar to those of the #EUgreenrecovery initiative. They include the need for public investments to rebuild our infrastructure, expand wind and solar power, weatherize our buildings, build and repair public housing and manufacture more clean energy goods.

In addition, the NoBigOilBailout – campaign also focuses on the social aspects of the transition, e.g. by asking to strengthen the social safety net, to vastly increase food aid programs, and to extend housing assistance. Any financial assistance directed at specific industries must be channelled to workers, not shareholders or corporate executives. Last but not least, the campaign also stresses the importance of natural climate solutions, for example, the need for money to be used to restore our wetlands and forests and support regenerative agriculture led by family farmers.

We are living in interesting times. Yet, however difficult the situation is, let’s not waste the opportunity this crisis offers but rather use it to work on a more sustainable and fairer society.

Posted on 16 April 2020