Building momentum for a sustainable recovery

Today, we are living through extraordinary times and facing tremendous challenges. As the world deals with the unprecedented health emergency triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the global economy is facing its biggest shock since the Great Depression. This is having a major impact on jobs and investment across all parts of the economy, including the energy sector.

Governments have taken the lead in providing urgent financial and economic relief to prevent the crisis from going into a downward spiral, but the damage is still severe. Today, attention is increasingly focusing on how to foster an economic recovery that repairs that damage while also putting the world in a better position for the future.

Since the scale of the economic crisis began to emerge, the International Energy Agency has been leading the calls for governments to make the recovery as sustainable and resilient as possible.

This means immediately addressing the core issues of global recession and soaring unemployment – and doing so in a way that also takes into account the key challenge of building cleaner and more secure energy systems.

At the IEA, we quickly re-focused the work of our analytical teams across the Agency on the shocks caused by the crisis to global energy demand, assessing the impact across oil, gas, coal, electricity and renewables. We then quantified and examined the staggering effects in key areas, such as the unparalleled 20% plunge in global energy investment that is expected this year. And now, we are identifying the most effective measures available to governments as they consider their once- in-a-lifetime recovery plans. The Sustainable Recovery Plan proposed in our new World Energy Outlook Special Report is the result.

The Sustainable Recovery Plan is not intended to tell governments what they must do. It seeks to show them what they can do. Whether countries choose to follow the measures laid out in the plan remains their sovereign choice. Our plan – a combination of policy actions and targeted investments – offers a hugely encouraging picture of what the world can achieve despite the tremendous difficulties we face today.

As they design economic recovery plans, policy makers are having to make enormously consequential decisions in a very short space of time.

These decisions will shape economic trends and energy infrastructure for decades to come and will almost certainly determine whether the world has a chance of meeting its long-term energy and climate goals. Our Sustainable Recovery Plan shows governments have a unique opportunity today to boost economic growth, create millions of new jobs and put global greenhouse gas emissions into structural decline.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, cities across Europe were asking for sustainable investment, companies were planning for it, and people were out in the streets marching for it. The European Commission made the European Green Deal its top priority a few short months ago, and it is now aiming for a sustainable and resilient recovery.

In Europe, as in many other parts of the world, investing in clean energy technologies, clean transport and clean industries is the way to create well-paying local jobs that boost economic growth.

Such investments will help the world move closer to meeting our international climate and sustainable energy goals and making economies more resilient to future shocks. This means putting resources into viable projects that bring both immediate and long-term gains, such as housing renovation, clean energy infra- structure and low-carbon transport.

To build momentum for these efforts, the IEA is bringing together top decision-makers from government, industry, the investment community and civil society for the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit on 9 July. A sustainable recovery is within our reach – I hope the grand coalition of global energy leaders we are assembling will seize this opportunity.