Press release

Ahead of G20 Summit, Leading Research Organizations Tracking Global Recovery Spending Call on Governments to Green COVID-19 Stimulus

October 29, 2021

October 29, 2021One day before G20 leaders come together in Rome and just before COP 26, research organizations heading four recovery trackers have issued a joint statement urging further greening of COVID-19 response. The statement builds on data collected by the Energy Policy Tracker, the Global Recovery Observatory, the Greenness of Stimulus Index, and the Green Recovery Tracker covering thousands of policies adopted worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. The signatories agree that, despite recent efforts from governments, the share of green recovery spending—representing 10 to 20% of recovery spending globally—is still insufficient to drive the urgent shift needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. The research organizations call on world leaders to use the upcoming international meetings to set clear spending targets to green their stimulus spending. Highlighting that fossil fuel-intensive activities still represent around 40% of public spending in the energy sector, they argue that governments should commit to a fossil-free recovery, where public finance no longer supports fossil fuel production and respects a “do no harm” principle. The signatories also point to a range of tools and policies that can accelerate a green recovery while creating decent jobs and driving innovations, such as skill retraining measures, research and development, and a better integration of nature and biodiversity in recovery plans. The statement comes at a critical point in time, when enhanced action is imperative to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. As governments continue working to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic, the signatories say this means redirecting all future public recovery spending toward a resilient, nature-positive, and climate-safe economy. Strengthened international cooperation and support are also essential to enable an equitable and just green recovery worldwide, they note. The signatories warn that maintaining the status quo could lock the world into a dangerous high-carbon pathway for decades.  


Jeffrey Beyer, Greenness of Stimulus Index Lead, Finance for Biodiversity, said: 

“Public money must be spent for public good, but the GSI and other trackers all show that COVID-19 stimulus has done more harm than good for nature and the climate. Governments must systematically change how budgets are assessed and spent to ensure that all future public spending enhances nature and protects the climate.”  

Helena Mölter, Research Associate, Wuppertal Institute, said: 

“Though the 37% target set by the European Commission clearly pushed EU member states to green their recovery plans, they are still not aligned with the bloc’s new 2030 climate target and not used to accelerate the climate transition in line with the new target. Hence, it is crucial to link investments with reforms and national energy and climate policy.” 

Satoshi Kojima, Director of Kansai Research Centre and Principal Researcher, Climate and Energy Area, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, said:  

“The trackers show us where we are and what we must urgently do. We hope that the insights they provide will help policymakers take evidence-based measures to move toward resilient and decarbonised economies.”  

Angela Picciarello, Senior Research Officer, ODI, said: 

What the various data on global recovery spending shows is that governments need to direct their public spending away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy in more systematic ways. Tools such as green taxonomies and budgeting approaches can help achieve this.”  

Joachim Roth, Policy Analyst, International Institute for Sustainable Development, said:  

Governments have made some progress since last year in increasing their share of clean energy commitments but this is still insufficient to drive the much-needed and urgent shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. To truly align with a 1.5°C scenario, public finance can no longer support fossil fuel production.”  

Izael Da Silva, Professor, Strathmore University, said:  

As nations devise a variety of post-COVID economic stimulus packages and recovery plans, two guiding principles must be taken into consideration: the first one is to encourage investments and incentives in green technology to curb carbon emissions and the second is to put people at the center of the initiatives geared towards sustainable development for the whole planet.”  


For more information, please contact: 

Lucile Dufour, +33 677 274 003, 

Anna Riesenweber, +49 202 2492-106,


About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.