With the global economy expected to be shrinking by up to three percent, and millions of people being put out of work, the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating economies and communities. This comes on top of the public health emergency and the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of individual deaths.

The social and economic instability and disruption caused by this pandemic was seen in previous major global crises from the Spanish influenza and World War I to the 2008 financial crisis. And as before, many governments have now developed rescue and recovery stimulus packages. These offer a narrow policy window for greater action on climate change, including industry transformation.

“Beyond the immediate health and well-being priorities of the COVID-19 pandemic lie questions around how economies and societies might recover,” said Oliver Johnson, Head of the LeadIT Secretariat, and lead author of the brief.

“As those questions are debated, a window of opportunity is opening to ensure recovery supports an industry transition that is sustainable, just and resilient. Failure to do so risks locking us into inequitable and high-carbon pathways. We know that the means to act are there; what we now need is collaborative and responsible action to build back better.”

— Oliver Johnson, Head of the LeadIT Secretariat and Head of Climate, Energy and Society Unit at SEI.

If the economic disruption wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic reduces or stops investment in renewable energies, green hydrogen technologies, or carbon capture and storage – it may be impossible to implement the available solutions before the window of opportunity closes.

Shri Prakash Javadekar, India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Environment and Climate. Robert Watt, Director of Communications, SEI.
Photo by the Ministry of Environment, India.

Shaping a sustainable and low-carbon recovery that spurs industry transition

The policy brief lays out concrete measures that decision makers can take now. The brief is produced by the LeadIT team and researchers at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), serving as a Secretariat for the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT). The main key messages are:

  • History shows that post-crisis recovery measures can lead to positive change, but not without sustained effort and policy coherence.
  • Policy levers for a sustainable, just, and resilient recovery include: Conditional bailouts; targeted tax relief; green public procurement, green bonds, tax credits and government-backed loans to catalyse green investment; and social welfare support and just transition measures.
  • There is also a need for “shovel-ready” industry transition projects in sectors able to employ and upskill large numbers of workers, while delivering medium-term returns in line with existing policy commitments.

Read the policy brief ‘Shaping a sustainable and low-carbon recovery that spurs industry transition‘.

LeadIT is launching a new website

Today, LeadIT is launching the new website industrytransition.org, featuring insights on how to make the COVID-19 recovery sustainable, just and resilient. The insights comes from Sweden’s environment minister and deputy prime minister Isabella Lövin, the CEO of Scania, Henrik Henriksson, Rachel Kyte, Dean of the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and Michael Lazarus, SEI’s US Centre Director, offered in the recording of a recently held webinar ‘How to make the COVID-19 recovery sustainable, just and resilient’.

The website also features an analysis that reveals a lack of detail about how countries plan to cut emissions from industry in the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) they have submitted under the Paris Agreement.

The Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT) was launched by the prime ministers of Sweden and India during the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019, in New York. LeadIT gathers countries and companies that are committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions from industry by 2050. It is supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The Secretariat is responsible for managing the work of the Leadership Group and is hosted by Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).