Addressing the COVID-19 and climate crises: Potential economic recovery pathways and their implications for climate change mitigation, NDCs and broader socio-economic goals

This paper provides decision-makers with a framework for prioritising different economic, social and environmental goals and analysing the options available to achieve them. To this end, it develops three stylised COVID-19 recovery pathways (“Rebound”, “Decoupling” and “Wider well-being”) that differ in the extent to which they encompass greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and the integration of mitigation and wider well-being outcomes or, broadly equivalently, SDGs. A number of real-world examples of COVID-19 recovery measures in the surface transport and residential sectors were identified, and the paper maps these measures onto these three stylised pathways. The paper finds a wide divergence in the environmental and social impacts of COVID-19 recovery measures developed to date, with several countries putting in place measures that correspond to all three pathways. The nature and pace of economic recovery in different countries and in aggregate will have important implications for existing, updated and new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and the paper also highlights the possible impact of the COVID-19 recovery measures being put in place on NDCs– including on the ambition of both current and future NDCs. The paper concludes that it will be important for governments to improve their understanding of the impact of their recovery measures across multiple policy dimensions (economic, social, environmental) as well as across different time periods (short and long-term) and spatial scales.