Focus on green recovery

Spotlight on green recovery measures

Green spending has risen, but is it enough for a sustainable recovery?

How much greener are the latest budgets?

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Where is the money going?

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What can governments do?

ENSURE GREEN JOBS & GROWTH

BUILD BACK BETTER

ACCELERATE A LOW-CARBON TRANSITION

STRENGTHEN BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION

ENHANCE ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

The plastics pandemic

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How can we invest in green infrastructure?

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10/05/2022
Pharmaceutical household waste from expired or unused medicine does not only offer zero therapeutic benefit, but also contributes to environmental pollution when disposed of via improper routes. Medicines discarded in sinks and flushed down toilets enter sewage waters and, if not filtered out, leak into aquatic systems. Disposal of unused or expired medicines via solid household waste can also result in pharmaceutical residues entering the environment if this waste is illegally dumped, or destined for landfills. In addition to environmental risks, unused or expired medicine not only constitutes wasted healthcare resources, but also presents a possible public health risk of accidental or intentional misuse and poisoning if extracted from waste bins. Preventing pharmaceutical household waste and ensuring the effective collection and environmentally sound treatment of unavoidable waste is thus an important policy objective. This report provides an overview of available data on pharmaceutical consumption and disposal practices across OECD countries, reviews existing collection schemes and provides recommendations to best prevent, collect and treat unused or expired medicines in order to avoid their leakage into the environment.
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03/05/2022
Despite years of donor country engagement, developing countries’ efforts to fight climate change and its consequences remain stifled by important capacity gaps. This paper reviews the experience of development co-operation partners in strengthening capacities in this area. It provides an in-depth analysis of official development assistance trends and flows, as well as an overview of the enabling factors, obstacles and good practices. Finally, it suggests ways to overcome a number of technical, political and organisational challenges, and to accelerate capacity development for more effective climate action in partner countries.
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21/04/2022
This new web format for Environment at a Glance Indicators provides real-time interactive on-line access to the latest comparable OECD-country data on the environment from the OECD Core Set of Environmental Indicators – a tool to evaluate environmental performance in countries and to track the course towards sustainable development. The web version allows users to play with the data and graphics, download and share them, and consult and download thematic web-books. These indicators provide key messages on major environmental trends in areas such as climate change, biodiversity, water resources, air quality, circular economy and ocean resources. They are accompanied by a short Environment at a Glance report that presents a digest of the key messages stemming from the indicators.
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21/04/2022
This Policy Brief provides the key findings and policy insights from the April 2022 update of OECD Green Recovery Database, which tracks recovery measures with a clear environmental impact adopted by OECD member countries, the European Union and selected large economies. Since the previous update in September 2021, the budget allocated to environmentally positive measures increased from USD 677 billion to USD 1 090 billion, while recovery spending with ‘mixed’ impacts increased from USD 163 to 290 billion. The Brief also explores how well-designed green recovery plans can generate the double dividend of enhanced energy security and better environmental outcomes, in the face of energy security concerns triggered by the war in Ukraine.
20/04/2022
This report highlights recent initiatives to inspire policy action at a time when innovation leadership by the public and private sectors is critical to meeting the net zero challenge. Countries around the world strive to become home to the next major company emerging from a start-up with a disruptive clean energy invention, and with good reason. Whilst aiding innovation in support of climate and energy goals, nurturing innovative start-ups to maturity can also create local economic prosperity because clean energy transitions will be a major market opportunity for all countries, all century long. Already, the number of government policy measures to help start-ups get new clean energy technologies to market has risen sharply since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. This is extremely encouraging given that energy technology start-ups continue to face challenges attracting patient capital and governments possess some unique resources to speed them through the phases to reach technical maturity while staying in business. Based on 14 detailed case studies and in-depth interviews, this report presents a range of impressive policy measures from a variety of different country contexts, and identifies eight key insights for effective policy to support clean energy start-ups.
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20/04/2022
Trade in plastic waste and scrap plays a potentially important role in helping to strengthen markets for recycled plastics as it can help to achieve economic efficiency through for instance economies of scale. But such trade has also been criticised for leading to plastic pollution when recipient countries lack capacity to treat such waste in an environmentally sound manner. This report aims to identify and assess trends in trade patterns of plastic waste and scrap in the context of recent policy developments, particularly the strengthening of controls applied in the context of the Basel Convention, which came into force at the beginning of 2021. One of the findings is that OECD Member Countries continue to make up a significant share of global trade in plastic scrap and waste (89% of global reported exports and 67% of global reported imports by weight), but that the trade surplus has continued to shrink, as well as the overall volume of trade.
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18/03/2022
Accounting for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions and sometimes as much as 70% in large cities, buildings and construction are central to the low-carbon transition. Decarbonising buildings, especially the old stock, through energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy use, not only reduces carbon emissions, but also generates co-benefits in health, energy affordability and the labour market. Additionally, global mega-trends and the transition to a green recovery from COVID-19 provide impetus for stakeholders to take action. Cities and regions have a key role to play and can leverage prerogatives in regulation, public procurement and stakeholder engagement, while addressing multiple governance, capacity and funding gaps. To accelerate and scale up their action, cities and regions need to work with national governments to create an effective governance mechanism. Drawing on the findings of a dedicated survey of cities and regions of all sizes from both OECD and non-OECD countries, this report explains their significant role, explores sub-national policy measures, identifies key obstacles, and provides policy recommendations and a checklist for both national and subnational governments to drive the decarbonisation of buildings in cities and regions.
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17/03/2022
Illicit trade in counterfeit goods causes economic damage by reducing sales and profits as well as innovation incentives in legitimate industries. At the same time, some counterfeits can be of low quality and create significant additional risks, including health risks (fake pharmaceuticals or food products), safety risks (counterfeit automotive spare parts, fake batteries) and environmental risks (fake chemicals or pesticides). This study presents detailed information on the value of counterfeit trade in such dangerous fake goods, analyses changes in the volumes and composition of the goods, and maps key trade routes. The evidence in this report can be used to raise awareness of the risks of this trade and its implications for health and environmental policy.
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14/03/2022
As countries implement stricter environmental policies, the need for tools to compare countries’ environmental policy stringency is becoming more pressing. The OECD Environmental Policy Stringency (EPS) index has become a widely used tool for policy analysis since its creation in 2014. This paper updates the EPS index over three decades from 1990 to 2020, across 40 countries and 13 policy instruments, focussing on climate change and air pollution mitigation policies. It up-grades the index structure across all years, adding a new sub-index that measures the strength of technology support policies, which complements the existing structure of market based and non-market based sub-indices. The paper shows evolving developments – across countries and time – in the stringency of environmental policies.
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10/03/2022
This brief focuses on the role carbon pricing can play in the COVID-19 recovery and in reaching national and international climate goals, such as those in the Paris Agreement. It outlines the carbon pricing policy changes (Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS), fossil fuel support (FFS), carbon, fuel excise and aviation taxes) that took place during the first 20 months of the pandemic (January 2020 to August 2021) in the 47 OECD and G20 countries. There had been 99 incidents of carbon pricing policy changes during this period, with the majority expected to have a negative effect on greenhouse gas emissions. However, policy changes with climate-positive effects were broader in scope regarding coverage of emissions and sectors and are, thus, likely to outweigh the climate-negative policy changes.
10/03/2022
This paper assesses the role of carbon pricing in a sustainable recovery from COVID-19. It tracks the policy changes in carbon pricing within OECD and G20 countries between January 2020 and August 2021 of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carbon pricing as defined here includes emissions trading schemes, fossil fuel support and carbon, fuel excise or aviation taxes. The paper also highlights the need for the recovery to be sustainable and discusses the advantages, limitations and uses of carbon pricing therein. In addition, it describes additional challenges to as well as increased rationale for carbon pricing in the pandemic. It provides evidence on the effects of carbon pricing on the challenges and discusses carbon pricing design elements to help overcome those challenges. The paper concludes that there were more policy changes with an expected negative impact on climate. However, it is likely that the impact of the climate-positive changes – which are broader in coverage and scope - will outweigh the climate-negative changes.
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22/02/2022
While plastics are extremely useful materials for modern society, plastics production and waste generation continue to increase with worsening environmental impacts despite international, national and local policy responses, as well as industry commitments. The urgent need to make the lifecycle of plastics more circular calls for an expansion of national policies and improved international co-operation to mitigate environmental impacts all along the value chain.The first of two reports, this Outlook intends to inform and support policy efforts to combat plastic leakage. The report quantifies the current production, use, disposal and key environmental impacts throughout the entire plastics lifecycle and identifies opportunities for reducing the negative externalities. It also investigates how plastics use and waste have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across sectors and regions. The Outlook identifies four key levers for bending the plastics curve: stronger support for recycled (secondary) plastics markets; policies to boost technological innovation in plastics; more ambitious domestic policy measures; and greater international co-operation.
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04/02/2022
Global progress towards tackling climate change is lagging. This paper puts forward a framework to design comprehensive decarbonisation strategies while promoting growth and social inclusion. It first highlights the need of evaluating a country’s national climate targets and current policy mix, in conjunction with facilitating monitoring tools to assess current and future progress, as a key step to design effective decarbonisation strategies. It then provides a detailed comparison of several policy instruments across different assessment criteria, which indicates that no single instrument is clearly superior to all others. This highlights the need for developing decarbonisation strategies based on a wide policy mix consisting of three main components: 1) emission pricing policy instruments; 2) standards and regulations; 3) complementary policies to facilitate the reallocation of capital, labour and innovation towards low-carbon activities and to offset the adverse distributional effects of reducing emissions. However, there is no one-size-fits-all policy mix, as feasible policy choices depend on countries’ industrial structure, social preferences and political constraints. A robust and independent institutional framework, stakeholders engagement and credible communication campaigns are key to managing these constraints and ultimately enhancing public acceptance of climate mitigation policies.
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21/12/2021
Taking gender considerations into account when designing and implementing green recovery measures can contribute both to reducing gender inequalities and achieving environmental objectives. This paper maps the limited presence of gender-sensitive measures in the OECD Green Recovery Database, identifies additional policy areas where gender sensitivity would be beneficial, and proposes policy actions to help countries align their commitments to gender equality and environmental objectives during the COVID-19 recovery.
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16/12/2021
The Climate Action Monitor, part of the International Programme for Action of Climate (IPAC), provides a diagnostic policy framework for assessing country progress towards climate objectives. Its goal is to provide a digest of progress towards, and alignment with, Paris Agreement goals to support countries in making better-informed decisions and allow stakeholders to measure improvements more accurately. Alongside the IPAC Dashboard, it complements and supports the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement monitoring frameworks by: 1) reviewing key trends and developments and highlighting areas for further analysis and policy action; 2) promoting greater harmonisation of key indicators; 3) showcasing examples of good climate mitigation and adaptation practices and results; and 4) strengthening transparency over climate policies.
01/12/2021
There is no guidance on how to deal with the effects of catastrophic events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, on stated preference survey responses, despite the possible impact such events can have on stated values and survey responses. This paper provides a concise analysis of the likely effects of extreme events on stated preference surveys, focusing on the validity and temporal stability of estimated values, and offers a set of recommendations. These recommendations can also be of use for designing other types of household and individual surveys, beyond economic valuation surveys.
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30/11/2021
On a daily basis, a deluge of academic studies, reports and news tell us that the Earth’s ecosystem is in danger. They further warn that we need more than just information to address the climate crisis, protect the environment, and promote a sustainable way of living. We need action.Education plays a pivotal role in raising awareness and sensitivity about the environment. It must provide the foundational knowledge and skills to identify and resolve environmental challenges, and shape attitudes and behaviours that lead to both individual and collective action.
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22/11/2021
Achieving sustainable, equitable and resilient societies is humankind’s challenge for the 21st century. In pursuit of this ambition, the international development community needs a shared, universal framework, within which to work more closely together. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the obvious answer, but a number of technical, political and organisational challenges prevent development co-operation providers from using them as their common results framework. Based on seven case studies, this publication identifies two critical factors and one game changer that can help overcome those challenges. First, country leadership needs to be supported by the international community. Second, development partners need to change their set-ups in order to deliver on the SDGs. Finally, by forcing governments and development partners to reset their long-term strategies and rethink their internal systems, the COVID-19 pandemic provides them with a rare opportunity to use the SDG framework collectively as a roadmap to recovery: this can be a game changer.
08/11/2021
Efforts that primarily focus on incremental change in systems that are unsustainable by design are one of the main barriers to scaling up climate action. This report applies the OECD well-being lens process to the transport sector. It builds on the report Accelerating Climate Action and encourages countries to focus climate action on delivering systems that - by design - improve well-being while requiring less energy and materials, and thus producing less emissions. The report identifies three dynamics at the source of car dependency and high emissions: induced demand, urban sprawl and the erosion of active and shared transport modes. The report also provides policy recommendations to reverse such dynamics and reduce emissions while improving well-being, from radical street redesign, to spatial planning aimed at increasing proximity, and policies to mainstream shared mobility. Analysis also shows why the effectiveness and public acceptability of carbon pricing and policies incentivising vehicle electrification can significantly increase after policy reprioritisation towards systems redesign.
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01/11/2021
This report addresses the urgent issue of climate-related losses and damages. Climate change is driving fundamental changes to the planet with adverse impacts on human livelihoods and well-being, putting development gains at risk. The scale and extent of future risks for a given location is, however, subject to uncertainties in predicting complex climate dynamics as well as the impact of individual and societal decisions that determine future greenhouse gas emissions as well as patterns of socio-economic development and inequality.The report approaches climate-related losses and damages from a risk management perspective. It explores how climate change will play out in different geographies, over time, focusing on the three types of hazards: slow-onset changes such as sea-level rise; extreme events including heatwaves, extreme rainfall and drought; and the potential for large-scale non-linear changes within the climate system itself. The report explores approaches to reduce and manage risks with a focus on policy action, finance and the role of technology in supporting effective risk governance processes. Drawing on experiences from around the world, least developed countries and small island developing states in particular, the report highlights a number of good practices and points to ways forward.
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