Although the phrase ‘build back better’ is used almost every day by policymakers globally to show their ambition to boost a green recovery after the pandemic, just 18% of these announced investments are actually green.
A new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Oxford University estimates only $368 billion (£264bn) of $14.6 trillion (£10.5tn) Covid-induced spending last year was allocated for green measures.
The analysis of the recovery efforts by 50 leading economies also suggests $66.1 billion (£47.5bn) was invested in low carbon energy, which was mainly driven by Spanish and German subsidies for renewable energy projects and hydrogen and infrastructure investments.
A total of $86.1 billion (£61.9bn) was announced for green transport through investments in electric vehicle technology, public transport and cycling and walking infrastructure.
Governments have also dedicated a total of $35.2 billion (£25.3bn) to green building upgrades to increase energy efficiency, mostly through retrofits, notably in France and the UK.
UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen: “Governments have a unique chance to put their countries on sustainable trajectories that prioritize economic opportunity, poverty reduction and planetary health at once.”
Brian O’Callaghan, Lead Researcher at the Oxford University Economic Recovery Project, commented: “Despite positive steps towards a sustainable Covid-19 recovery from a few leading nations, the world has so far fallen short of matching aspirations to build back better.”