Just as countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions and seek ways to revive their broken economies, a new study suggests a greener path to recovery.

The study’s authors – a group of climate experts and economists – analysed more than 700 economic stimulus plans created during or following the 2008 financial crisis, the most serious global economic downturn since the Great Depression.

They discovered that green policies, such as those that support renewable energy and energy efficiency, resulted in greater immediate economic benefits and higher long-term savings compared with traditional stimulus packages.

The study – set to run in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy – comes after world leaders met virtually for the international summit known as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. During the summit German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged governments around the world to include climate action in their coronavirus fiscal stimulus packages.

Investing in prevention strategies

Though global emissions are on track to drop by nearly 8% this year, the threat of climate change has not suddenly vanished. Experts caution that once life returns to normal, emission rates will once again soar – unless governments take steps to curb emissions and invest in clean technologies.

Along with transitioning away from fossil fuels, the study recommends that countries invest in projects that restore or conserve nature and support climate-friendly farming in rural regions. Not only could investing in the protection of nature provide jobs and bolster the global economy, experts say that it could help prevent future pandemics by limiting people’s contact with wildlife and the diseases they may carry.

“As we enter an unsteady economic future, it is more important than ever that we invest in prevention strategies that will have an impact,” said Conservation International CEO M Sanjayan in a recent statement. “Natural climate solutions – the protection, restoration and improved management of land, oceans and forests – have the potential to protect us from not only future disease spread, but also the looming crisis of climate change.” – Conservation International