Episode #4 (EN), COVID19 and the climate crisis: their interconnections and how we can learn from them both

Facts and figures behind the scenes

This is a fact sheet behind episode #4 of etui.podcast series with Bela Galgoczi, Senior Researcher at the ETUI.

The crisis could trigger the largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions in 2020

In China, the world’s biggest source of carbon, emissions were down about 18% between early February and mid-March — a cut of 250m tonnes, equivalent to more than half the UK’s annual output. Europe is forecast to see a record level of CO2 emissions reductions in 2020.


According to recent estimates, a substantial drop in EU ETS emissions (of 388.8m tons) for 2020 is expected representing a 24.4% decrease to a pre-COVID environment.


Global emissions cuts in 2020 year could be around 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2, more than 4% of the global total in 2019. But even this would not come close to bringing the 1.5C global temperature limit. “Global emissions would need to fall by more than 6% every year this decade — more than 2,200 MtCO2 annually for that and global warming continues until we reach net-zero emissions — Carbon Brief analysis.


The EU Commission is sticking to its original plan to present an updated 2030 target, while other legislative proposals within the European Green Deal face delays following a review of the Commission’s work programme to be concluded this month, Euractiv reported on Thursday, citing a leaked draft document.

The Commission will not delay its impact assessment, which may see the 2030 target increased to 50–55% from the current 40% reduction under 1990 levels, despite the extensive negative impact of the coronavirus containment measures across the EU’s economies.

Energy intensive industries in their common position supported Polish and Czech leaders lobby for softer targets and ETS suspension to fend off the effects of the Covid crisis. EU automobile industry is also urging for softer emissions targets and for more flexible implementation due to the crisis.



Members of the European Parliament voted on Friday in favour of aligning the bloc’s coronavirus recovery measures with the Green Deal, dismissing efforts by right-wing lawmakers to ease the impact of the EU ETS.

The vote was over a non-binding resolution designed to influence EU leaders, who meet next Thursday (Apr. 23) to consider a €540 billion package of initiatives to try to prevent the pandemic from crippling the bloc’s economy.

The resolution — calling for an “EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences”- got 395 votes in favour, 171 against, and 128 abstentions at a two-day plenary session of the European Parliament, held in the hemicycle’s seat in Brussels.

Hungary’s parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for spreading misinformation and gives no clear time limit to a state of emergency that allows the nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, to rule by decree.




Workfare instead of welfare is the main narrative, the target of support are entrepreneurs and working people. The `aim is not to distribute benefits, but to protect the work=based society` said the minister (industry and technology).

The other main principle is fiscal discipline, stay below the 3% SGP criterion.

Two new funds: 2bn EUR for controlling the pandemic (protection, health care boost) financed by special taxes levied on multinationals (supermarket chains cca 105 Mn EUR), a banks (cca 170 Mn EUR), from local governments (cca 100 Mn EUR).

4 bn EUR Fund for restarting the economy — financed by budget redistribution

Short time work — at enterprises affected by the shut-down government takes over 70% of wages for three months; engineers working in R&D get 40% wage subsidy irrespective of their working time; health care workers get a one-off payment of cca 1500 EUR.

Social partners were not consulted, a process criticized by the ETUC in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Orban: https://www.etuc.org/sites/default/files/page/file/2020-04/20200401%20Letter%20to%20President%20and%20Prime%20Minister%20Hungary.pdf

The European Trade Union Institute is the research & training centre of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).