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Mayors warn that Covid stimulus funds must be directed at a green recovery

In a statement released today, the C40 Global Mayors Covid-19 Recovery Task Force warned that a “high-carbon recovery” will accelerate climate breakdown, endanger public health, cost lives and sacrifice jobs.

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Mayors want green and just recovery based on the principles of a Global Green New Deal
Mayors want green and just recovery based on the principles of a Global Green New Deal

Leading mayors from around the world warn that Covid-19 stimulus funds must fund a green recovery to halt catastrophic climate breakdown, create jobs and bring about a much faster economic recovery.

 

The warning from the C40 Global Mayors Covid-19 Recovery Task Force follows research carried out by the collective. It revealed that only three to five per cent of Covid stimulus funds of an estimated $12-$15 trillion is currently committed to green initiatives.

 

Dangers of a high carbon recovery

 

The task force, established in April 2020 by C40’s chair and steering committee, said in a statement released today that a “high-carbon recovery” will accelerate climate breakdown, 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 towards catastrophic climate change”, the statement said.

 

By contrast, the task force said a green and just recovery based on the principles of a Global Green New Deal would see such funds channelled towards investments like mass transit, walking and cycling infrastructure and clean energy. This approach would deliver transformational economic and health benefits across the world’s 100 leading cities and their supply chains and finally put the world on track to keep global heating under 1.5°C.

 

The statement was developed by the task force and signed by the chair and mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala.

 

Specifically, the mayors claim a such a green and just recovery would:

  • create more than 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 up to 29 per cent in cities around the world, compared to a return to business as usual. Such improvements could prevent over 270,000 premature deaths over the next decade in C40’s nearly 100 member cities and – as shown in existing research existing research – make further coronavirus pandemics less likely by reducing habitat destruction

“The most significant test of any government’s commitment to climate action right now is where it is directing Covid-stimulus funding for recovery”

  • lead to more than $1.4bn 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 $280bn over the next 10 years from premature deaths averted. This is particularly valuable at a time when healthcare 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.

The timing of the recovery is key. 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 early investment is clear. An accelerated green recovery gives by far the best chance of preventing climate breakdown, and would deliver far more green jobs and health benefits for the long 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,” added the mayors in their statement.

 

The task force repeated its call to national and regional governments, central banks and international financial institutions to join it in delivering a green and just recovery from Covid-19. Its demands include: an end to all public fossil fuel investments and subsidies; commitments to an equitable and inclusive recovery; protecting mass transit; investing in clean energy and in resilient cities as the engines of the recovery.

 

Global Green New Deal

 

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

 

The members of the Global Mayors Covid-19 Recovery Task Force in full are: chair and 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; lord mayor of Melbourne, Australia, Sally Capp; mayor of Montréal, Canada, Valérie Plante; mayor of New Orleans, US, LaToya Cantrell; mayor of Seattle, US, Jenny Durkan; mayor of Seoul, South Korea, Park Won-soon, was a member of the Task Force until his death. Acting mayor Seo Jung-hyup replaced mayor Park on behalf of the City of Seoul.

 

Analysis was based on six city examples that illustrate what a green and just recovery could look like in different types of cities, across different regions. A Green and Just Recovery (green recovery) scenario is a modelled scenario in which Covid-recovery stimulus funding supports investment in climate action that prioritises rapid creation of employment and ensures that C40 cities are on track to limiting warming to 1.5°C.

 

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