In this briefing, we examine the COVID-19 recovery packages of five major emitters – China, EU27, India, South Korea and the USA; we present the global temperature update, taking into account the economic impact of COVID-19; and we share key insights from the updated assessments for 13 of the 36 countries assessed by the Climate Action Tracker, including projections of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on 2020 emissions.
This briefing provides a directional analysis as to what we could expect in terms of emissions developments in the future, considering that COVID-19 adds another layer of uncertainty to the forecasting exercise, given the lack of information and how long this will last.
COVID-19 recovery analysis: still waiting for green plans
For the analysis on recovery packages, we looked into 106 domestic measures across the five countries, grouped into overarching packages (aggregated rescue and recovery announcements) and individual interventions (relevant and quantifiable measures of rescue, recovery, and regulatory rollbacks).
At the overarching packages level, we found the investments being made represent more than 8% of GDP for the EU27, India and South Korea, and even up to 14% of GDP in the case of the USA and China.
There is even less information available at the individual interventions level. In fact, the interventions for which we were able to find detailed information account for only between 0.5% to 2.5% of GDP (compared to the 8% to 14% of GDP that the entire overarching packages represent).
Through this country-level analysis we find that key emitters are taking different approaches in their early economic recovery practices:
Current global warming is now at 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, and global average temperature will rise by 2.9°C, based on current policies (or policies governments are currently implementing) (WMO, 2020). This shows that governments are far from meeting the Paris temperature limit of 1.5°C.
While emissions are likely to be lower in 2030 compared to a pre-COVID-19 scenario, due to the economic downturn, this reduction in emissions is not the result of any structural change in the economy or decarbonisation efforts and therefore will not be sustained in the long run.
The effect of a lower current policies scenario in 2030 on our estimate of temperature increase by 2100 is minimal, because we assume that the dip in emissions will not continue post-2030. This temperature estimate is slightly lower compared to last year’s estimate for this reason and is more due to CAT methodological improvements rather than actual government action on climate (see technical annex for details).
The post-COVID-19 current policy scenario only considers the economic impact of the pandemic and does not yet consider the impact of any recovery or stimulus measures. To be compatible with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal, governments must ensure that the recovery supports the transition to a zero emissions society.
Unabated: the Carbon Capture and Storage 86 billion tonne carbon bomb aimed at derailing a fossil phase out
The climate talks at COP28 have centred around the need for a fossil fuel phase out. Our analysis quantifies the risk posed by restricting a phase out commitment to only ‘unabated’ fossil fuels.
No change to warming as fossil fuel endgame brings focus onto false solutions
The CAT's annual warming estimate has risen by 0.1˚C to 2.5˚C. The estimate is largely influenced by weak existing targets rather than shifts triggered by updated Nationally Determined Contributions.
When will global greenhouse gas emissions peak?
The IPCC says peaking before 2025 is a critical step to keep the 1.5°C limit within reach. With emissions set to rise in 2023, this leaves limited time to act. To assess if we can meet this milestone, we look at when global emissions might peak, as well as what we can do to get there in time.
Wind and solar benchmarks for a 1.5°C world
This report presents a detailed methodology for determining the amount of wind and solar capacity that is required for a country to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal. While the focus of the report is the method, it includes illustrative benchmarks for Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa.
A 1.5°C future is possible: getting fossil fuels out of the Philippine power sector
The Philippines is also one of the fastest-growing developing countries: poverty is in decline, access to energy is rising and, with that, demand for energy services. However, fossil fuels still dominate the energy system, accounting for 78% of power generation in 2022. This report sets out what the Philippines government needs to do to get the country’s power sector onto a 1.5˚C compatible emissions pathway, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
Production Gap Report 2023
Governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. The persistence of the global production gap puts a well-managed and equitable energy transition at risk.
Emissions impossible: Unpacking CSIRO GISERA Beetaloo Middle Arm fossil gas emissions estimates
This report provides an independent evaluation of the CSIRO and GISERA assessments of the potential greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the exploitation of the Beetaloo fossil shale gas reserves.
Adjusting 1.5°C climate change mitigation pathways in light of adverse new information
This study uses an integrated assessment model to explore how 1.5°C pathways could adjust in light of new adverse information, such as a reduced 1.5°C carbon budget, or slower-than-expected low-carbon technology deployment.
Railway development: lessons for the EU
This paper analyses how EU railway policy for a low-carbon future can be enhanced, drawing insights from Japan and Switzerland.
Ramping up energy storage: lessons for the EU
This paper explores how the EU can enhance its policy for a low-carbon future by learning from successful energy storage approaches in California, South Korea, and Australia.