IEA publishes $1trn a year COVID-19 recovery plan

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published a $1trn (£0.8trn) a year investment plan to spur economic growth, create millions of jobs and put global emissions into structural decline after the coronavirus crisis.


The Sustainable Recovery Plan integrates energy policies into COVID-19 responses over the next three years, accelerating the deployment of modern, reliable and clean energy technologies and infrastructure.

It could boost global economic growth by an average of 1.1% a year, save or create roughly nine million jobs annually, and reduce global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 4.5 billion tonnes each year.

The plan could also deliver health and well-being benefits, driving a 5% reduction in air pollution emissions, bringing clean-cooking access to around 420 million people in low-income countries, and enabling electricity access to nearly 270 million people.

The annual $1trn price tag represents about 0.7% of today’s global GDP and includes both public spending and private finance that would be mobilised by government policies.

“Governments have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reboot their economies and bring a wave of new employment opportunities while accelerating the shift to a more resilient and cleaner energy future,” said IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol.

“Policymakers are having to make hugely consequential decisions in a very short space of time as they draw up stimulus packages. Our Sustainable Recovery Plan provides them with rigorous analysis and clear advice on how to tackle today’s major economic, energy and climate challenges at the same time.”

The IEA estimates that three million out of 40 million energy industry jobs have been lost or are at risk due to the COVID-19 crisis, with another three million jobs lost or at risk in related areas such as vehicles, buildings and industry.

The largest portion of the millions of new jobs created through the Sustainable Recovery Plan would be in retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency, and in the electricity sector, particularly in grids and renewables.

The plan is designed to avoid the kind of sharp rebound in carbon emissions that accompanied the economic recovery from the 2008-2009 crash.

It highlights key aspects of today’s situation that make it a unique opportunity, with the costs of clean energy technologies such as wind and solar PV far lower, and some emerging technologies like batteries and hydrogen ready to scale up. 

“The Sustainable Recovery Plan would make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions, putting them on a path towards achieving long-term climate goals,” Dr Birol added.

Image credit: Shuttershock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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