Barbier, Edward B. “Greening the Post-pandemic Recovery in the G20.” Environmental and Resource Economics (2020): 1-19, forthcoming in the Special Issue Economics of the Environment in the Shadow of Coronavirus in Environmental & Resource Economics.
Rebuilding G20 economies after the COVID-19 pandemic requires rethinking what type of economy we need and want in the future. Simply reviving the existing ‘brown’ economy will exacerbate irreversible climate change and other environmental risks. For G20 economies, investing in a workable and affordable green transition is essential. A good place to start is learning what worked and what did not from previous efforts to green the economic recovery during the 2008–2009 Great Recession, examining the cases of the United States and South Korea. Policies for a sustained economic recovery amount to much more than just short-term fiscal stimulus. Transitioning from fossil fuels to a sustainable low-carbon economy will require long-term commitments (5–10 years) of public spending and pricing reforms. The priorities for public spending include support for private sector green innovation and infrastructure, development of smart grids, transport systems, charging station networks, and sustainable cities. Pricing carbon and pollution, and removing fossil-fuel subsidies, can accelerate the transition, raise revenues for the necessary public investments, and lower the overall cost of the green transition.