A Green Recovery: The Case for Climate-Forward Stimulus Policies in America’s COVID-19 Recession Response

October 29, 2020

The federal government has invested more than $2 trillion in stimulus measures to mitigate the COVID-19 emergency. While the initial round of relief has been instrumental in staving off the most disastrous effects of the pandemic, it also invested in fossil fuels. All stimulus policy choices will affect climate, and future relief efforts must affirmatively work to help decarbonize the economy. As policymakers debate how to initiate and sustain a recovery from the COVID-19 recession, investments in decarbonization and clean energy—what we refer to throughout as “green stimulus”—offer a compelling path forward. 


In A Green Recovery: The Case for Climate-Forward Stimulus Policies in America’s COVID-19 Recession Response, authors Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Kristina Karlsson, Kitty Richards, Bracken Hendricks, and David Arkush argue that a green stimulus program will harness the opportunity and recognize the necessity to address two existential crises—climate and economic catastrophe—at once. They emphasize that there is no such thing as a “climate-neutral” stimulus; all fiscal policy has climate impacts, and to disregard climate policies in future stimulus programs would reverse progress toward climate mitigation and economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession. 

The authors make the case that green stimulus policies are both environmental essentials and smart investments. They outline key principles in designing green stimulus policies and offer several examples that would provide relief to families, state and local governments, and businesses, while also creating new jobs that contribute to a cleaner, more just American economy.

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