Covid-19 has devastated the global economy and forced governments worldwide to pour trillions into the recovery effort.
The pandemic could have been the decisive moment in the fight against climate change — an opportunity for leaders to bail out the environment and pivot the planet toward a greener future.
Instead, CNN has found that some of the most significant fossil fuel-producing countries inject taxpayer money into propping up polluting industries. And exclusive new data shows these decisions are taking the world a step closer to a climate catastrophe.
“This is the one chance that we have,” said professor Niklas Höhne, founding partner at the NewClimate Institute, a climate think tank, and co-author of an upcoming study from the Climate Action Tracker, shared with CNN.
The research shows that the world is running well behind its already insufficient targets of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees.
“We are in a situation where enormous sums of money are (being) spent,” Höhne said. “A similar opportunity for spending so much money from government budgets will not come in the next 10 to 20 years.”
The United Nations says it is necessary to phase out fossil fuels to stop catastrophic human-made climate change. But getting rid of them is going to be complicated. Around the world, communities rely on fossil fuels for their energy, their jobs, their livelihoods. And, in turn, governments rely on their votes and taxes.
Below, we look at four parts of the world once again turning to fossil fuels to salvage their economies.
Poland is spending $35 million to buy up unwanted coal to relieve an industry “shaken by the pandemic.” In Canada, Alberta’s province is investing $1.1 billion into a new oil pipeline deemed “essential” for economic recovery. Australia’s Queensland is fast-tracking a new coal mine to help the state “bounce back from the impacts of Covid-19.” And India is opening up dozens of coal mines to the private sector to “turn the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity.”