Coal Rollers: Big Nations Aiding Fossil Fuels with Recovery Cash

July 3, 2020


Climate Change News:

Major nations including the United States and Russia are throwing a lifeline to fossil fuel companies during the coronavirus crisis, rather than seizing a historic chance to shift to cleaner energies, a study by 14 research groups is set to show.

Preliminary findings, shared exclusively with Climate Home News, showed that only China, India and four other nations in the Group of 20 leading economies were committing more public money to clean energy than to polluting sectors.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity… to use government funding, government subsidies, loans, to reshape our future,” said Ivetta Gerasimchuk, Sustainable Energy Supplies lead at the International Institute for Sustainable Development think-tank, one of the groups involved.

G20 nations are committing trillions of dollars to combat the economic slump induced by Covid-19.

But “the overall trend is that… there is more money going into fossil fuels than into clean energy,” she told a webcast organised by the Stockholm Environment Institute, another of the 14 research organisations.

“What we see is pretty much what countries did before the Covid crisis they keep doing. In this sense the crisis… has just exacerbated the trends we had before, unfortunately.”

The findings are due for publication on 15 July, at a new website,

Preliminary data shared with CHN showed that, as of 1 July, national and subnational-level public money commitments to fossil fuels dominated over cleaner energies in the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea and Turkey.

The G20 countries where commitments to clean energy exceeded those to fossil fuels were China, India, Japan, Germany, the UK and Brazil.

In the five remaining G20 members – the European Union, Italy, Mexico, Argentina and South Africa – there was so far a lack of data or it was hard to disentangle support levels.

Gerasimchuk also said there were very many “shades of green”. Supporting battery-powered cars in a shift from petrol and diesel engines would be good for the climate, for instance, but not if the electricity used to recharge them came from coal rather than solar or wind power.

China was a borderline case, with a big rail bailout package tipping the balance towards green investment.

Michael Lazarus, director of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s US Center, also said that “while much is on hold because of Covid, there is yet to be a sign of a reset in most countries” to help achieve goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Lazarus was lead author of a Production Gap report last year that found the world was set to produce about 50% more fossil fuels out to 2030 than would be consistent with the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2C, and 120% more than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5C.

“We expect to find a similar disconnect” between climate and energy policies in an update of that report later in 2020, he said. He said global carbon emissions may fall 8% this year from 2019 because of the economic slowdown but that they “could easily rebound strongly” in coming years unless governments shift to more sustainable policies.

Adam Matthews, Co-Chair of the Transitions Pathway Initiative representing major institutional investors, said that major European oil companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell or Total, had started to engage with the idea of net zero emissions in what he called a “very significant shift” from past reluctance.

But he said companies also needed governments to act. “You can’t expect companies to act in the absence of regulation,” he said.

Among the most radical steps by a government, Costa Rica has imposed a moratorium on oil exploration. But it is now facing calls to reassess the policy to raise money to recover from the Covid-19 crisis, said Andrea Meza Murillo, director of the climate change directorate at the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

“It’s risky times right now for all of these policies,” she said. “We need to show we can generate green jobs”.

6 Responses to “Coal Rollers: Big Nations Aiding Fossil Fuels with Recovery Cash”

  1. redskylite Says:

    A lot of talk of a cleaner future generated during this covid-19 lockdown crisis, but as countries begin opening up industry again, emissions are as high as ever.

    I link to a rather pessimistic opinion piece from Jonathan Gornall (a freelance British journalist) that seems to have been researched quite well.

    The Hassyan coal power plant in Dubai which is being built, which Gornall mentions, claims to be high tec and clean – but no mention of capturing CO2.


    “Coal still the top villain in battle to halt climate change

    Before oil, coal was king. It was the filthy black stuff that powered the Industrial Revolution, choked cities and their citizens and set the planet on course for today’s climate crisis. But it would be very wrong to think coal is a thing of the past. In fact, it remains the world’s largest single source of electricity, generating 38% of all power in 2018.


    As the pandemic has demonstrated, the only viable way to bring about a sufficiently rapid slowdown in climate change is to cut down global energy consumption. Unfortunately, everything about the way we live today militates against this; the success of every company, city and nation is dependent upon constant growth and expansion.”

    • redskylite Says:

      Earth Institute (Columbia University:-

      “Reopening Mostly Erases Effects of Pandemic Reductions in CO2 Emissions

      A crucial aspect to remember is that to cool our planet it is essential to develop technologies for the capture of carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere as well as reducing emissions.”

      • redskylite Says:

        WKSU (Kent State University’s NPR News):-

        “Can direct air capture make a real impact on climate change?

        The company’s biggest plant in Switzerland removes 900 tons of carbon dioxide a year, the carbon sequestration equivalent of around 36,000 trees. Beuttler said their goal is to scale up to several billion tons, what he refers to as a “climate relevant scale.”

        Reaching gigaton levels of capture seems like a far-off dream right now because removing 1 ton of carbon costs between $600 and $800. They need to bring costs down and expand their market.”

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Combustion vehicles will have a long tail. The resale market will make sure of that.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Gasoline rationing, with an ever-decreasing allowance and an ever-decreasing number of gas stations licensed to stay open. Subsidies so public mass transit and bicycles are free, including the national-international network of high speed rail, light rail, and EV buses. For those in need, subsidies for leased EVs. Whatever it takes to revitalize the recycling and scrap industry.

      And whatever it takes to replace the current jackalpack of diseased minds, with a government that will take those measures. The current ones just go lumber-bumbling jerkily on like zombies, impossible to stopby any conventional means because they’re already dead.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        My view has been colored by how many flood-damaged cars which were supposed to be scrapped after Katrina made it to the resale market.

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