Germany, Britain call for 'green recovery' from pandemic

Germany, Britain call for 'green recovery' from pandemic
Activists of Fridays for Future movement placed protest posters for climate protection in front the German parliament building the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, Friday, April 24, 2020. Because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus, the climate strike will be digitally distributed on the Internet. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

Germany and Britain said Monday that efforts to revive the global economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic must ensure a 'green recovery' that helps the world tackle climate change.

Speaking ahead of a virtual meeting of officials from some 30 countries, Germany's environment minister said it was important for economic recovery programs to invest in future-proof jobs that would help reduce in coming years, rather than aim for a return to business as usual.

"We mustn't invest in technologies of the past," Svenja Schulze told The Associated Press, noting that some countries are holding onto plans to build new coal-fired power plants.

Some German politicians have called for stimulus money to be spent on subsidizing car purchases, to boost the country's .

Schulze suggested that one way to do this would be to help care workers buy electric vehicles for house calls. "These are many, many vehicles," she told The AP. "It would help the economy and it would move us forward (in curbing emissions)."

Scientists have warned that there's little time left if the world wants to achieve the headline goal of the 2015 Paris accord—keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5 C (2.7 F).

Germany, Britain call for 'green recovery' from pandemic
German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Svenja Schulze attends a news conference at the beginning of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, Germany, Monday, April 27, 2020. The International Climate Dialogue, with speeches by Chancellor Merkel and UN Secretary-General Guterres, will take place only digitally this year. (Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP)

Some have also likened the strategy adopted by countries in fighting the pandemic—the idea of flattening the curve of infections so health systems don't collapse—to the need to bring down the rate of greenhouse gas emissions that are driving .

"Unlike in the fight against the coronavirus, we already know the vaccines for the ," Schulze said, adding that they included , electric mobility, recycling and low-energy housing.

Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who is co-hosting the two-day talks, said that "the world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind."

Environmental campaigners have warned that heavily polluting industries are already seeking to tap into the vast sums being lined up by governments to stimulate the economy.

"We are seeing the internal documents from industries indicating that they are trying to use this moment where public money is being put back into the economy to prop up their industries, whether it be the aviation industry... (or) the oil industry," said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International.

Germany, Britain call for 'green recovery' from pandemic
Activists of the fridays for future movement placed a poster at a tree in Erfurt, Germany, Friday, April 24, 2020. Youth groups are staging a long-planned global climate demonstration online Friday because of restrictions on public protests during the coronavirus pandemic. Giant slogan reads 'Fight Every Crises'. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

"It's just really important, particularly with the oil industry, to note that this type of volatility that we're seeing right now, it's a rehearsal for what climate chaos will bring to the oil market in the future," she said. "These are . They were risky investments before this crisis, and they are risky investments moving forward."

Ahead of the two-day meeting, known as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, 68 companies released a statement Monday saying they, too, support linking pandemic recovery with the fight against climate change. The companies include AIDA Cruises, insurance giant Allianz, Deutsche Telekom and sportswear firm Puma.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will participate in the virtual climate meeting Tuesday.


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