A sustainable recovery is within our reach if governments act now

As it grapples with the unprecedented health emergency triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is experiencing its worst economic shock since the 1930s. This is having a severe impact on employment and investment across all parts of the economy, including energy.

Governments have taken the lead in providing urgent financial and economic relief to prevent the crisis from spiralling further downward. Today, attention is increasingly focusing on how to bring about an economic recovery that repairs the damage inflicted by the crisis while putting the world on a stronger footing for the future.

Since the scale of the economic crisis began to emerge, the International Energy Agency has been leading the calls for governments to make the recovery as sustainable and resilient as possible. This means immediately addressing the core issues of global recession and soaring unemployment – and doing so in a way that also takes into account the key challenge of building cleaner and more secure energy systems.

At the IEA, we quickly re-focused the work of our analytical teams across the Agency on the shocks caused by the crisis to global energy demand, assessing the impact across all major fuels including oil, gas, coal, electricity and renewables. We then quantified and examined the staggering effects in key areas, such as the unparalleled 20% plunge in global energy investment that is expected this year. And now, we are identifying the most effective measures available to governments as they consider their once-in-a-lifetime recovery plans. The Sustainable Recovery Plan proposed in our new World Energy Outlook Special Report is the result.

The Sustainable Recovery Plan is not intended to tell governments what they must do. It seeks to show them what they can do. Whether countries choose to follow the measures laid out in the plan remains their sovereign choice. Our plan – a combination of policy actions and targeted investments – offers a hugely encouraging picture of what the world can achieve despite the tremendous difficulties we face today.

As they design economic recovery plans, policy makers are having to make enormously consequential decisions in a very short space of time. These decisions will shape economic and energy infrastructure for decades to come and will almost certainly determine whether the world has a chance of meeting its long-term energy and climate goals. Our Sustainable Recovery Plan shows governments have a unique opportunity today to boost economic growth, create millions of new jobs and put global greenhouse gas emissions into structural decline.

The IEA’s work is designed to provide the world’s top decision-makers in government, industry and the investment community with the strongest possible data, analysis and options to enable them choose the best path forward. With this in mind, we are bringing all of these groups together – including dozens of Ministers from countries representing over 80% of global energy demand – at the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit on 9 July 2020 in an effort to identify how to step up actions that achieve real-world results.

Discussions at the Summit will be informed by the Sustainable Recovery Plan and our upcoming Energy Technology Perspectives Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation, which will analyse the early-stage energy technologies where investment today can do the most to contribute to long-term decarbonisation objectives.

A sustainable recovery is within our reach – I hope the grand coalition of global energy leaders we are assembling will seize this opportunity.

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The Sustainable Recovery Plan set out in this report shows governments have a unique opportunity today to boost economic growth, create millions of new jobs and put global greenhouse gas emissions into structural decline. This work was done in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund.

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