This database aims to collect as many examples as possible where city, state, and national leaders are making COVID-19 recovery plans in ways that could also produce benefits in racial, gender, and economic equity and in climate change mitigation and resilience.
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Section 1. Plans Adopted
Burlington, Vermont, USA
27 June 2020
The Burlington Electric Department, a municipal utility, put forth Net Zero Energy programs on April 22nd 2020 for regulatory approval in what it calls a ‘Green Stimulus’. The plan was subsequently approved; elements include:
- Cold-climate heat pump incentives
- Electric Vehicle incentives
- Cash for Inefficient Residential Appliances
- Zero-interest loans with on-bill financing of energy efficiency projects
- Failed heating and cooling systems replacement
The Net Zero programs have an equity component as they have incentives for low– to moderate– income customers, including: covering part or all of eligible electric energy efficiency upgrades for affordable housing provider; making e-bikes available to low-income customers for commuting to work; and loans for home energy upgrades with interest rates based on household income, just to name a few.
See more details on the Burlington Electric Department website.
26 May 2020
Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, is focusing on transportation as a way to restart its economy after the pandemic as well as cut emissions by as much as 20% by 2030.
“City officials say they will expand bike lanes by almost 50% within three years, to 145 kilometres, and more than double the number of interconnected public transport lines, including overland trains, trams and cable car lines, to 26 by 2030.
As well, the city is working to provide 50,000 electric bikes that residents can rent cheaply – and it aims to electrify all public transport by the end of the decade.”
In addition to the multiple climate co-benefits, many of the transportation policies are focused on improving public transportation links between the hillside ‘slums’ and the economic opportunities in the bustling urban center:
“Today the virus is hitting low-income sectors, precisely those that were hard hit by the violence of the 80’s and 90’s. And it’s for this reason we understand this as an urgent call for a new transformation,” Quintero said.- Thomas Reuters
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
12 May 2020
“During a Boston City Council hearing Tuesday night, Boston’s top transportation planner said the city is preparing to expand sidewalks into driving lanes in certain places “later this month” in order to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
“It’s something that the mayor has asked us to start implementing as soon as possible,” Vineet Gupta, the director of planning for the city transportation department, said during the teleconference hearing.” – Boston Globe
Additionally, officials in the Boston suburb of Brookline “have approved a plan to close motor vehicle lanes on four major streets in order to give people adequate space for social distancing while walking to essential jobs and services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” as reported on April 8th by Street Blog Mass
Charlotte, North Carolina USA
9 May 2020
The Charlotte Department of Transportation adopted a new “Shared Streets” initiative:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is changing many aspects of how we live, move about our cities, and get essential physical activity. The City of Charlotte is launching Charlotte Shared Streets to support social distancing and pedestrian/bicycle safety amidst this new way of life. Shared Streets is intended to support outdoor exercise; create a safer environment for people walking, wheelchair rolling, biking, skateboarding, and rollerblading…”
Read more about the program on the City of Charlotte website.
Seattle, Washington, USA
7 May 2020
Seattle’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic included temporarily closing 20 miles of streets to allow pedestrians and cyclists more room to move around. Those street closures are now set to become permanent, according to the Office of the Mayor:
‘Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that at least 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets will become permanent and the construction of bike infrastructure will be accelerated in 2020…
“We are in a marathon and not a sprint in our fight against COVID-19. As we assess how to make the changes that have kept us safe and healthy sustainable for the long term, we must ensure Seattle is rebuilding better than before. Safe and Healthy Streets are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Durkan…
“Just like we must each adapt to a new normal going forward, so, too, must our city and the ways in which we get around. That is why we’re announcing a nimble, creative approach towards rapidly investing in a network of places for people walking and people biking of all ages and abilities and thinking differently about our traffic signals that make pedestrians a greater priority. Despite the many challenges we face, 2020 will remain a year of thoughtful, forward progress as we build a safer, more livable Seattle for all,” said Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle Department of Transportation Director.’
Read the full statement here.
29 April 2020
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo plans to expand a pre-pandemic initiative to decrease the use of cars within the city. While the rate of driving in Paris has steadily decreased for the last thirty years, Hidalgo sees an opportunity to emphasize recovery plans that further transition the city towards alternative modes of transportation.
“I say in all firmness that it is out of the question that we allow ourselves to be invaded by cars, and by pollution,” she said. “It will make the health crisis worse. Pollution is already in itself a health crisis and a danger — and pollution joined up with coronavirus is a particularly dangerous cocktail. So it’s out of the question to think that arriving in the heart of the city by car is any sort of solution, when it could actually aggravate the situation.” – Anne Hidalgo as quoted by City Lab
France’s lockdown will be eased from May 11, but the closure of Rue de Rivoli to cars is planned to last throughout the summer, and could then be made permanent. The street is the Parisian equivalent of London’s Oxford Street or New York City’s Fifth Avenue. – Forbes
28 April 2020
Remigijus Šimašius, mayor of Lithuania’s capital city Vilnius, announced vehicle restrictions in 18 public spaces in order to allow restaurants and cafes to expand their outdoor seating. The number of public spaces reserved for open air dining will grow throughout the summer. So far more than 160 restaurant owners have applied for the opportunity to expand their outdoor seating space.
“Plazas, squares, streets – nearby cafes will be allowed to set up outdoor tables free of charge this season and thus conduct their activities during quarantine,” said Remigijus Šimašius. Public safety remained the city’s top priority, the mayor said, but the measure should help cafes to “open up, work, retain jobs and keep Vilnius alive”. – The Guardian
Oakland, California, USA
10 April 2020
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf passed an emergency measure, “Oakland Slow Streets,” to temporarily banish cars from 74 miles of residential streets.
“Because of the reduction in car traffic we will be closing off a number of streets, so that bicyclists and pedestrians can spread out and exercise and take in fresh air safely,” Schaaf said during a virtual town hall Thursday evening. – San Francisco Chronicle
The change is mostly a firm psychological nudge, said Warren Logan, the director of mobility policy and interagency relations in the Oakland mayor’s office. Confronted by a pair of traffic signs and a barricade blocking one lane, drivers now have to think twice about entering these streets. Many will consider taking a different route. And all will hopefully drive more mindfully when they enter a slow-streets zone. – City Lab
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Embracing the “Doughnut Model” to balance economics, needs of people and the needs of nature in the COVID-19 recovery.
“The city of Amsterdam this week officially decided to embrace what has come to be known as “The Doughnut Model,” a framework for sustainable development created by Oxford University economist Kate Raworth. In adopting this model, which attempts to balance the needs of people without harming the environment, the city hopes to emerge from the cloud of Covid-19 elbows out, with new purpose.” MSN News 9 April 2020
“…the model will be formally embraced by the municipality of Amsterdam as the starting point for public policy decisions, the first city in the world to make such a commitment.” The Guardian 8 April 2020
15 June 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the “Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery” on April 17th. Read the original press release here.
The task force published an open letter on June 15th calling for an inclusive and resilient economic recovery following weeks of nation-wide protests against structural racism:
“The letter, signed by California leaders from across a diverse range of economic and social sectors, outlines how people of color are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; unemployment; and racism in policing, and highlights the income gaps across ethnicity, gender and ability that persist in our state — the world’s fifth-largest economy.
Since its inception, the Task Force has committed to put people first, explicitly address racial and ethnic discrimination and disparities, expand opportunity in places facing extreme poverty and inequality, and prioritize shared prosperity and economic inclusion.”
12 May 2020
Governor Ned Lamont signed Executive Order No.7MM to expedite the process of restaurants getting approval to expand outdoor dining into public space:
“Gov. Ned Lamont has removed red tape for restaurateurs and retailers looking to pivot to expanded outdoor sales as the state’s economy gradually reopens May 20 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.The governor signed an executive order Tuesday… that empowers towns and cities to expedite zoning changes or ordinances for small businesses seeking to bring their operations outdoors.” – Hartford Business Journal
New Jersey, USA
17 April 2020
A coalition of New Jersey state agencies is collaborating on a ‘strategic funding plan’ to direct proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) towards measures that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“New Jersey plans to invest an estimated $80 million each year in programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive forward projects that boost clean energy and create jobs, protect the health of residents in environmental justice communities and increase the resiliency of coastal communities.”
Equity is featured throughout the Strategic Funding Plan, most notably environmental justice:
“Carbon emissions are not confined by state borders, and that’s why this regional collaboration is so critical. While climate change affects us universally, some communities feel those impacts harder than others. I’m especially proud that this strategic plan places special focus on environmental justice communities,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “This plan will put significant resources toward electrifying transportation, especially for low- to moderate-income residents, an area where we can make the broadest, fastest progress on cutting air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. With the RGGI Strategic Funding Plan, we will continue to take measurable steps to remediate past environmental inequities and ensure all New Jersey residents can participate in and benefit from New Jersey’s transition to a clean energy future.”
Read the full statement here.
New York, USA
6 April 2020
The New York State government announced passage of the “Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act” in the first week of April. The legislation will “dramatically speed up the siting and construction of clean energy projects to combat climate change and help jumpstart the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 health crisis. The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act (the Act) will create a first in the nation Office of Renewable Energy Siting to improve and streamline the process for environmentally responsible and cost-effective siting of large-scale renewable energy projects across New York while delivering significant benefits to local communities.”
Read the full New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announcement.
National or Regional
12 June 2020
Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency is spearheading a major expansion of domestic solar capacity, according to reporting by Energy Voice. The initiative is multisolving for environmental justice by focusing on rural households that currently lack energy security:
“[Nigerian Vice President Yemi] Osinbajo said the policy would see solar power generation equipment installed on 5 million households, serving around 25 million Nigerians. The programme is focused on houses not connected to the national grid.
Installing solar systems is one of the ways in which Nigeria will create “millions of new jobs”, Osinbajo said. “We need to focus on encouraging local production, local services, local innovation, and emphasise the use of local materials,” he said…
One study from academics in Kano reported that only 40% of households in Nigeria have access to electricity.
4 June 2020
Germany approved an unprecedented stimulus package worth roughly €130 billion with at least €40 billion dedicated to climate-related spending.
The package includes many equity components, including: an increase to the single-parent tax allowance to stabilize the income of single parents; financial assistance for cultural projects and infrastructure; a special loan program to support non-profit organizations; and federal funding to support local public transportation.
“Alongside the increased EV grants, the programme also includes a €50bn “future package” to fund R&D, green transport programmes, hydrogen infrastructure, and building energy efficiency upgrades. Specifically, the plan promises €7bn for new hydrogen projects, €2bn for green auto innovations, €2.5bn for EV charging infrastructure, €2.5bn for public transport improvements, €1bn each for green aviation and shipping programmes, €2bn for green building upgrades, and €700m for improved forest management. Meanwhile, in a bid to curb electricity prices for households and businesses the government announced it would cap the renewables levy on bills at 6.5ct/kWh in 2021 and 6ct/kWh in 2022.”- Business Green
Access a comprehensive breakdown of the stimulus plan here.
14 May 2020
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced the adoption of “Wellbeing Budget 2020: Rebuilding Together” which includes the creation of a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and provides NZ$800 million in new funding for green projects:
“The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund ‘shovel-ready’ projects announced today include $350m for public and active transport, and $460m for projects to protect the environment and help New Zealand cut pollution and adapt to the effects of climate change.” – The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
In addition to advancing climate protection, the Budget’s “Rebuilding Together” strategy incorporates a health, economic, and social equity lens:
“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic… We know that return may be harder for some communities than for others. Budget 2020 provides substantial investment in both government and non-government social services to support New Zealanders’ employment, housing and broader life outcomes. It includes investment in initiatives to grow strong and resilient communities. It also supports vulnerable and marginalised populations, with a particular focus on the elderly, people with disabilities and victims of domestic violence.” – New Zealand Government
Highlights of how Budget 2020 funds will be divided can be found here.
14 May 2020
The Italian government approved “Relaunch Decree,” a €55 billion ($60 billion) stimulus package to aid economic recovery as the covid-19 lockdown ends:
The measures include an increase in the so-called “eco-bonus” for building-renovation projects from 65% to 110% and a jump in support for PV installations and storage systems associated with such renovation projects, from 50% of costs to 110%…. The decree was published in the Italian government’s official journal on Wednesday and is already in force. – PV Magazine
As part of efforts to encourage people to use alternatives to public transport while the risk of transmitting the coronavirus is still high, the government has offered people who live in cities up to €500 towards the cost of a new bike, scooter, hoverboard or Segway. – The Local Italy
11 May 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new program to provide relief to corporations struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic:
“The new program will provide bridge loans of up to $60 million and guarantees of up to $80 million for companies earning more than $300 million in annual revenue. Companies that receive the loans, however, have to abide by a set of rules that include restricting executive bonuses and investing in climate action.
Companies will be expected to publish annual reports on climate investments, detailing how they plan to reduce their environmental footprints, and how their operations support the country’s commitments made under the Paris climate agreement.” – Global Citizen
Read the official announcement here.
9 May 2020
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched a £2 billion [$2.5 billion USD] plan to improve and expand pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in the country:
“Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250 million [$308.5 million USD] emergency active travel fund – the first stage of a £2 billion [$2.5 billion USD] investment, as part of the £5 billion [$6.17 billion USD] in new funding announced for cycling and buses in February.
Following unprecedented levels of walking and cycling across the UK during the pandemic, the plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand.”
Read the full story on the UK government’s official website here.
5 May 2020
“The Icelandic Government has revealed several new environmental policies and proposals recently, including fresh funds for projects tackling climate change and a bid to ban certain single-use products. Although the measures are by no means radical, they suggest that environmental concerns may be a greater government priority post-pandemic.
The government awarded grants totalling 550 million ISK to projects addressing climate change as part of its second COVID-19 economic stimulus package. Further details about the allocation of these funds were released on May 5th. The investment will be used to increase carbon sequestration, accelerate switches to sustainable energy sources and fund further climate research…
Around 200 million ISK will be invested into projects aiming to naturally store carbon dioxide long-term in order to reduce levels of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.
A further 300 million ISK will be used to reduce Iceland’s energy consumption and reliance on fossil fuels. Two-thirds of the funds will go towards port electrification. Around 40 million ISK will be used to research domestic fuel production and switching vehicles to sustainable energy sources.” – The Reykjavik Grapevine
30 April 2020
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, launched a 10 Billion Tree campaign in 2018. While the project was halted in March of 2020 as Pakistan responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, Khan recently approved a “Green Stimulus Package” that will restart the program and employ people laid off due to the lockdown to plant the trees.
This year the programme is employing triple the number of workers it did in its first year, said Malik Amin Aslam, climate change advisor to the prime minister. Many of the new jobs are being created in rural areas, he said, with a focus on hiring women and unemployed daily workers – mainly young people – who were migrating home from locked-down cities. – Thomas Reuters
The Green Stimulus package… aims to promote plantation by setting up nurseries and natural forests and promotion of honey, fruit and olive plantation in the country. Under the package, ‘Green Nigehabaan’ initiative will also be launched to provide job opportunities to initially 65,000 youth, making them part of the plantation campaign. – Daily Times Pakistan
29 April 2020
Air France has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. On April 24th, the French government offered the airline a 7 billion euro ($7.6 billion) package composed of state-guaranteed bank loans and loans directly from the state.
According to reporting by Reuters, “Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the lower house of parliament’s economics committee that the airline would have to cut its carbon emissions by half per passenger and per kilometre by 2030, from 2005 levels. For flights specifically in mainland France, emissions would have to be halved by 2024, which Le Maire said meant that domestic flights would be “drastically reduced” to focus on serving hubs for transfers. In a further condition, 2% of the fuel used by its planes would have to be derived from alternative, sustainable sources by 2025.”
The International Railway Journal also reported that Le Maire told the members of the economic committee that “The plane should no longer be a means of transporting [people] in one hour or one hour 15 minutes which could be done at lower cost of CO2 by train in two hours or two hours 30. This must be the rule and we will enforce it.”
Scotland, United Kingdom
28 April 2020
Scotland adopted the new “Spaces for People” initiative to expand walking and cycling infrastructure in response to a 75% decrease in car use.
“The Scottish Government has announced £10 million of funding for local authorities to provide “pop-up walking and cycling routes” to ensure pedestrians and peddlers have more space to get about amid social distancing restrictions.
Concerns have been raised over some people struggling to maintain social distancing – amid a 35% increase in cycling as the lockdown continues.With social distancing set to be part of life in Scotland for some time, pedestrians and cyclists will be given more space on roads to ensure the public can safely move around.” – Herald Scotland
16 April 2020
South Korea’s Democratic party has won a landslide victory in elections that took place yesterday, achieving a strong mandate for a European-style Green New Deal, making it the nation first in east Asia to enact a pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050. – Forbes
The Democratic Party’s decisive victory will enable President Moon to press ahead with its newly adopted Green New Deal agenda during the last two years of his mandate. Under the plan, South Korea has become the first country in East Asia to pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050… The plan includes large-scale investments in renewable energy, the introduction of a carbon tax, the phase out of domestic and overseas coal financing by public institutions, and the creation of a Regional Energy Transition Centre to support workers transition to green jobs. – Climate Change News
Despite pressing forward with the Green New Deal plan in April of 2020, the South Korean government supported a $2 billion dollar bailout of the country’s largest coal plant manufacturer, as reported by Climate Change News.
13 April 2020
Chile is the second South America country, and only a handful of countries in the world, to submit an updated climate action plan, or Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC):
“As Chile fights COVID-19 against a backdrop of unresolved social tensions, the government hopes its strengthened plan to tackle climate change will help ease inequality while getting a green boost from economic recovery after the coronavirus outbreak…
If Chile were to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2050, it could generate savings of more than $5 billion annually, reduce deaths related to air pollution in the capital, Santiago, and generate up to 11,000 new jobs, the study said.
Chile’s environment ministry said in a statement that meeting the carbon-neutrality goal would generate investment opportunities estimated at $27 billion-$49 billion by 2050.” –Thomas Reuters
Read Chile’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) here.
Section 2. Plans Under Discussion or Review
National or Regional
5 May 2020
The Chinese Politburo Standing Committee in a meeting on COVID-19 control measures in March 2020, suggested that the route to economic recovery would include accelerated investment in ‘new infrastructure’ projects.
According to an article in the East Asia Forum, new infrastructure is thought to include “5G networks, data centres, artificial intelligence, the industrial Internet of Things, ultra-high voltage (UHV) power transmission, high-speed rail and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”
The article goes on to say that “the total investment anticipated for these seven fields is US $1.4 trillion for the six-year period from 2020–25, easily allowing for a low-carbon stimulus package comparable in size to the one following the GFC [the global financial crisis of 2008]. The suggested ‘accelerated investment’ means that these investments could be brought forward as part of a stimulus package to achieve the policy goals for these seven fields by 2025. But the suggestion to accelerate the investment has not been backed up by central government spending yet, possibly because Beijing’s coffers are not nearly as full as they were when the GFC hit. Much of the investment will have to come from provincial level governments and by encouraging lending.”