• New research shows that investing COVID stimulus funds in green solutions would create 50 million jobs, prevent 270,000 premature deaths, and deliver $280bn in economic benefits globally.
  • Just 3-5% of COVID stimulus funding is currently directed to sustainable recovery.
  • C40 Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force warns that, by ignoring these opportunities, “national governments and global institutions are likely leading us towards catastrophic climate change”

Investing COVID stimulus funds in green solutions would deliver a much faster economic recovery, according to new research released today by a group of leading mayors.

The C40 Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force is ’deeply concerned’ that only 3% – 5% of an estimated US$12 – $15 trillion in international COVID stimulus is currently committed to green initiatives. By propping up old and polluting economies, the mayors warn in a statement released today that a ‘dirty recovery’ will accelerate the climate emergency, endanger public health, cost lives, and sacrifice jobs.

“By ignoring the opportunity to make rapid green stimulus investments, most national governments and global institutions are likely leading us to catastrophic climate change”, the statement says.

By contrast, a green and just recovery based on the principles of a Global Green New Deal would direct COVID stimulus and recovery funds towards investments in mass transit, walking and cycling infrastructure, and clean energy. This approach would deliver transformative economic and health benefits across the world’s 100 leading cities and their supply chains, putting the planet on track to keep global heating under the 1.5°C line that science tells us is necessary to prevent further devastating climate impacts.

The report makes clear that a green and just recovery would:

  • Create over 50 million good, sustainable jobs by 2025, across the nearly 100 cities in the C40 network and their supply chains. Over a third more than investing funds in a ‘high-carbon recovery’.
  • Save lives by reducing air pollution by almost 30% in cities around the world. Such improvements could prevent 270,000 premature deaths over the next decade in C40’s nearly 100 member cities and – as shown in existing research – make further coronavirus pandemics less likely by reducing habitat destruction.
  • Lead to over $1.4 billion savings in health costs for avoided hospital admissions on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases associated with poor air quality, and deliver wider economic benefits of over $280 billion over the next 10 years from premature deaths averted. This is particularly valuable at a time when health care systems and public sector budgets are facing unprecedented pressure.
  • More than halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, getting on track to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees, unlike a return to business as usual in which GHG emissions would continue to rise.

By modelling the impacts of faster stimulus spending- enabling action over the next five years compared to over the next 15 years-the case for swift investment is clear. An ‘accelerated green recovery’ over the next five years provides the best chance to prevent climate breakdown, and would deliver far more green jobs and health benefits in the longer term.

The most significant test of any government’s commitment to climate action right now is where it is directing COVID stimulus funding for recovery,” the mayors of the C40 Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force say in their statement.

The Task Force repeated their call to national and regional governments, central banks and international financial institutions to join them in delivering a green and just recovery from COVID-19. Their demands also include an end to public fossil fuel investments and subsidies; commitments to an equitable and inclusive recovery; protecting mass transit; and investing in clean energy and in resilient cities as the engines of the recovery.

C40 mayors also called on all those who share their vision for a green and just recovery to join their Global Green New Deal coalition of mayors, business leaders, trade unions, investors, youth activists, civil society and global citizens to create the future we want.

The statement was developed by the C40 Global Mayors Covid-19 Recovery Task Force and signed by Mayor of Los Angeles and C40 Chair, Eric Garcetti; Chair of the Task Force Mayor of Milan, Italy, Giuseppe Sala; Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr; Secretary for the Environment of Hong Kong, China, KS Wong; Mayor of Lisbon, Portugal, Fernando Medina; Mayor of Rotterdam, Netherlands, Ahmed Aboutaleb; Mayor of Medellín, Colombia, Daniel Quintero Calle; Mayor of Montréal, Canada, Valérie Plante; Mayor of New Orleans, USA, LaToya Cantrell; Mayor of Seattle, USA, Jenny Durkan; and Acting Mayor of Seoul, Republic of Korea, Seo Jung-hyup.


Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, USA, and Chair of C40 said:
“COVID-19 has laid bare the deep inequities found in the heart of our economies, societies, and laws, and mayors understand that returning to normal simply will not suffice — we need to build healthier, more resilient, and more inclusive cities across the globe. This report reveals what we have known from the outset of the pandemic: that only a green and just recovery can help lift us out of this crisis, protect our planet, and lay the foundation for a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future.”

Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan, Italy, and Chair of the Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force said:
“While we must continue to focus on preventing the further spreading of the virus and on responding to the immediate needs of our affected communities, we are also called to provide a long-term vision and to prepare for it as well as possible.

“Our cities are in dire need of a direction towards a better future and the outcomes of the Mayoral Task Force work and its underlying research provide fellow mayors with a formidable set of tools to navigate the crisis and strengthen their inclusive climate action. I believe the results of the research on the benefits of a green stimulus – and the frightening costs of a lack of green stimulus – are compelling and influential.

“They demonstrate why a recovery that is green and just is the only possible recovery and what are the benefits of sustainable and equitable investments for our citizens.

“I am sure this will have a powerful domino effect in pursuing a green and just recovery throughout our continents.”

Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, Hong Kong, China said:
“Hong Kong, China has adopted a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to contain the spread of COVID-19, and has used part of its USD40 billion anti-epidemic fund to launch a Green Employment Scheme which will create more than 500 time-limited green jobs, thereby stimulating economic recovery and bringing substantial benefits to the environment. Another Graduates Subsidy Programme has also been launched to subsidise private companies and organisations that are willing to employ fresh local graduates who are interested in environment-related fields to enter the industry. The scheme covers a wide range of environmental protection areas, including environmental consultancy, environmental management, waste reduction and recycling, environmental education, environmental technology equipment and testing, renewable energy, new energy vehicles and air quality, green construction and management, ecological conservation and green finance. We raised the quota to more than 500 in view of the overwhelming response from both employers and fresh graduates.”

Daniel Quintero, Mayor of Medellin, Colombia said:
“As mayors and representatives of many of the premier cities of the world, we know that only by joining forces will we achieve the ambitious objectives in regard to climate change. Therefore, we call on national governments, businesses, academy, and world leaders to advance on the agenda for a fair and green recovery. There is no sense in going back, the planet needs a vision forward now”.

Mayor Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal, Canada said:
“The current situation forces us to be innovative and thus to seize the opportunity for a new economic paradigm that supports our economy, our local businesses and the wellbeing of our citizens. A green and inclusive recovery plan should respond to the socioeconomic inequities and environmental issues common to big cities. In that sense, it is imperative that governments and cities act as partners to ensure a successful ecological transition in support of a prosperous economy.”

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