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New Online Tool Tracks Energy Investments During Economic Recovery

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The Group of Twenty, or G20, is a forum for leaders in developed and developing countries created to help foster international cooperation on financial and socioeconomic issues. Image: Shutterstock

The Group of Twenty, or G20, is a forum for leaders in developed and developing countries created to help foster international cooperation on financial and socioeconomic issues. Collectively, G20 governments represent about 80 percent of the world’s economic input, and together, have pledged to inject trillions of dollars into the global economy to counteract the health, social and financial shocks caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

This large-scale stimulus spending will shape the global economy for decades to come and, with focused attention on maximizing renewable energy sources, increasing energy efficiency, and better management of energy demand, could help accelerate the clean energy transition. Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and 13 expert organizations from around the globe released a new website and database to track these investments from a climate and energy perspective.

The Energy Policy Tracker has already registered more than 200 individual policies from G20 countries. The site tracks energy commitments at multiple levels, from individual policies to countries and the G20 community overall. Many of these policies are still in the making. As such, the website will continue to be updated weekly, as more countries and new policies are added by researchers. In a time characterized by rapid policy change, the Energy Policy Tracker offers a near real-time snapshot of international progress.

The interactive website can be found at: http://energypolicytracker.org/. The team will also send out a weekly update with the status of fossil versus clean energy funding, and a headline summary of the most important energy policy decisions taken in G-20 countries.

chart showing energy committments

G20 economic stimulus investments as of July 22, 2020. Courtesy: EnergyPolicyTracker.org

Key initial findings as of July 24, 2020:

  • Total commitment from G20 governments in support of fossil fuels after the pandemic: $160.95 billion; Only 20 percent of this support makes financial support conditional on green requirements, such as setting climate targets or implementing pollution reduction plans.
    • $130.65 billion was committed to “fossil fuel unconditional” policies supporting production or consumption of fossil fuels without any climate targets or additional pollution reduction requirements.
    • $30.30 billion was committed to “fossil fuel conditional” policies supporting production or consumption of fossil fuels with climate targets or additional pollution reduction requirements.
  • Total commitment from G20 governments in support of clean energy: at least $123.75 billion; 81 percent of this support is unspecific about the appropriate environmental safeguards.
    • $38.44 billion was committed to “clean energy unconditional” policies supporting production or consumption of energy that is both low-carbon and has negligible impacts on the environment if implemented with appropriate safeguards, for example funds to support cycling initiatives or new solar energy projects.
    • $85.32 billion was committed to “clean energy conditional,” potentially clean policies that stated to support the transition away from fossil fuels, but are unspecific about the implementation of appropriate environmental safeguards.
  • $27.66 billion was committed to other energy policies outside of the two “fossil” and two “clean” buckets, or that have elements of both categories. This category includes nuclear energy as well as biofuels and hydrogen of unspecified origin.

The consortium behind the research includes 14 expert organizations: Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Oil Change International (OCI), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Forum Ökologisch-Soziale Marktwirtschaft (FÖS), Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (INESC), Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE), Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), Legambiente, REN21 and The Australia Institute (TAI).

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