The Missed “Green New Deal” Opportunity: Climate Spending in COVID-19 Stimulus Among Top Emitters

March 2022

Many countries have developed economic relief policies in response to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. These massive stimulus bills offer a significant opportunity for climate-related spending to stimulate economies and facilitate decarbonization. And yet, the four top emitters—China, the United States, India, and the European Union—made very few new investments, or heightened prioritization of climate spending, in their COVID-19 economic relief packages. Where new investment has occurred, it has been limited to countries and places that have already made significant financial commitments to climate spending. After outlining climate spending in COVID-19 stimulus among top emitters, I argue that this lack of prioritization can be explained by the distributive conflict model of climate change. Next, I emphasize that the absence of significant new climate change spending amounts to a missed opportunity for Green New Deal spending or spending that aims to decouple economic growth from increased carbon emissions.