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Will the new economy be a green economy?

Written by: Alexa Stone

In the early months of today’s pandemic crisis, workers headed home and businesses locked their doors. Globally, the April average of carbon dioxide emissions was 17% less this year. Now, as a new economy is taking shape, those emissions are again within 5% of last year’s levels.[1]

Must business as usual lead to climate change as usual?


Solar Streets

New economies are taking form on every continent. Within the next few months, $9 trillion may be spent as governments seek to rescue their economies after the terrible jolt of pandemic needs. Those crisis actions will reshape the global economy.

As economies change, the energy that powers those economies must be cleaner, reducing emissions. Business as usual could put climate targets beyond reach.


Progress begins with planning. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has led with that first step. After detailed analysis, and in partnership with the International Monetary Fund, the IEA has published a Sustainable Recovery Plan.[2] The major goals of this plan depend on each other:

  • Boosting economic growth
  • Creating jobs
  • Building more resilient and cleaner energy systems


In its plan, the IEA specifies the necessary policies and investments. These include:

  • Accelerated deployment of wind and solar energy
  • Modernization of electricity grids
  • Lower-carbon transport, made possible with fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, along with high-speed rail
  • Greater energy efficiency in buildings, manufacturing equipment, and household appliances
  • Technology innovations in carbon capture, batteries, hydrogen power, and more


As more green energy is produced, consumption must also be reformed. The rewards could be substantial. Each year, roughly 9 million jobs could be saved. Green jobs would fabricate and install solar panels and wind farms. Buildings would be retrofit, making them more energy-efficient.

The necessary journey began pre-pandemic. More than 53 gigawatts of new renewable energy is scheduled to be online by April 2023. That energy would be 50 times the combined new capacity from natural gas, coal, oil, or nuclear power sources.[3]

After the losses and suffering in today’s pandemic, a green economy can bring more jobs. That will bring progress toward controlling climate change. It’s all possible. Public awareness can lead to commitment and planning to benefit the economy… and the planet.