A net-zero emissions economic recovery from COVID-19

Topics: Economics and Finance, Energy and Low-Carbon Futures, Health
Type: Collaborative publications
Publication date: April 2020



A COP26 Universities Network Briefing

Canary Wharf in LondonThis briefing identifies key recovery policies that the UK government could introduce to both respond to the crisis of COVID-19, and support the country in meeting its commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. 

It has been produced in association with the COP26 Universities Network, a growing group of more than 30 UK-based universities working together to help deliver an ambitious outcome at the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow and beyond.

A background working paper to this briefing is available to view here


  • Economic growth will be a high priority for all countries in the months and years following COVID-19. The transition to net-zero emissions can significantly contribute to the recovery.
  • Lessons can be learnt from the recovery packages introduced following the 2008 financial crisis, but the COVID-19 crisis is structurally different on the demand and supply side.
  • In the lead up to COP26, the UK could provide guidance and methodologies to evaluate proposed recovery packages for consistency with the Paris Agreement and net-zero emissions.
  • The UK could lead by example with a recovery package including components on net-zero buildings, energy storage, clean industry, transport and greenhouse gas removal.
  • Institutionally, this could be supported by establishing a ministerial Climate Change Emergency Committee along with a Net Zero Delivery Body to implement a coherent response.
  • Financially, a new National Investment Bank and focus on green financial instruments could enable the process.
  • Building on these domestic efforts, as COP26 President, the UK could coordinate a global response through a new flexible intergovernmental Sustainable Recovery Alliance.

Authors: Dr Jennifer Allan, Cardiff University | Dr Charles Donovan, Imperial College London | Professor Paul Ekins, University College London | Dr Ajay Gambhir, Imperial College London | Professor Cameron Hepburn, University of Oxford | Professor David Reay, University of Edinburgh | Nick Robins, London School of Economics and Political Science| Dr Emily Shuckburgh, University of Cambridge | Dimitri Zenghelis, University of Cambridge

Download: A net-zero emissions economic recovery from COVID-19 [PDF]

[Image: Canary Wharf, London]