In the wake of the historic global economic shutdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, governments are unleashing trillions of dollars in a bid to create jobs and spur economic recovery. The scale of this stimulus is unprecedented, in some cases amounting to more than 10% of countries’ gross domestic product. At the same time, an overwhelming number of economists, finance ministers, and business leaders are saying that much of that money needs to help—and certainly not hinder—our ability to cut emissions.

If that advice is heeded, these funds will go to emerging technologies that would have sounded like science fiction not so long ago. Now they have ambitions to help lower greenhouse gas emissions on an industrial scale. 

Leading the way is the European Union, which was planning a green transformation even before the outbreak began. It aims to make the 27-member bloc the first carbon neutral continent by 2050, and the pandemic hasn’t changed that.

On Wednesday, the European Commission will unveil the details of a likely multi-trillion euro plan to fuel the recovery. A draft of that document suggests that low-carbon sectors of the economy will benefit, with hundreds of billions ploughed into promoting electric vehicle sales, renewable energy projects and into making new, green technologies economically viable.

Other countries have climate in mind, too. The U.K. will invest $2.4 billion to promote cycling and walking. South Korea plans to double solar incentives to promote rooftop systems in homes and commercial buildings. China will build more than 78,000 electric-vehicle charging stations.

In a letter sent to G20 leaders on Tuesday, health professionals became the latest group to call for a recovery that also addresses air pollution, deforestation and climate change.

Bloomberg Green spoke to four pioneers in clean industries about their hopes and fears as they prepare to go mainstream.


Spanish biologist-turned-businessman Ignasi Cubina came into sustainable building by chance and at an odd time. It was 2005, at the height of Spain’s real estate bubble, when companies rushed to build a lot and fast. Environmental rules were bent and sometimes broken to make a quick buck. 

“We knew very little and we started from scratch; we were not experts in building,” says Cubina, who founded the firm Eco Intelligent Growth on the principles of the circular economy and green architecture. “But we thought that the impact of construction in society is extremely high, so the impact of doing things well could be bigger than in other industries.”

Buildings are responsible for 36% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the draft stimulus proposal, making them its main consumers of energy. To change that, the document proposes a financing facility of €91 billion per year to triple the number of buildings currently being renovated for energy efficiency.

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