New report suggests that a greener recovery from the pandemic will create more jobs, spur long-term growth, and save lives

6 October 2021

A renewed focus on a green economic recovery from COVID-19 would create more jobs, spur long-term growth, and save lives, a new report from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Oxford University Economic Recovery Project, and Vivid Economics finds.

Investigating three countries with large domestic coal production, India, Poland, and China, the report models how greener measures – including reforestation and making buildings more energy-efficient – could yield better economic results. For all countries, the report provides a generalised roadmap for policy makers to design and pursue a green recovery from economic crisis.

Brian O’Callaghan, Lead Researcher and Project Manager of the Oxford University Economic Recovery Project, said: ‘Government responses to COVID-19 have the potential to significantly influence the course of climate change. Our research suggests that public investment in green initiatives can deliver strong economic returns, and if well targeted, address social inequalities and create a cleaner natural environment. This is particularly true during periods of economic downturn where job creation and economic rejuvenation are of marked importance.’

Corina Campian, Project Lead at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, said: ‘A low carbon world will help secure a healthy and prosperous future for today’s children. Evidence to this are the numbers provided in this report, showing the impact that green recovery investments can have on climate, health, and on jobs. This cross-sectoral impact is impossible to ignore.’

Findings show that if Poland uses an additional $1.75 billion from the European Commission’s ‘Just Transition’ Fund on green initiatives, it could create 46,000 new jobs and reduce CO2 emissions by two megatons. Beyond its economic advantages, a greener recovery from the pandemic would also save lives through improved air quality. If India allocated as much money to green stimulus measures as it has to coal power ($7.7 billion), it could suffer 34,000 fewer deaths and 56,000 fewer birth complications. In China, better green spending could result in 59,000 less deaths from air pollution over the same period.

For all three countries, prioritisation of ecosystem restoration could be key to strengthening post-pandemic jobs markets. Modelling by the research team found that reforestation is the most job-intensive of all the interventions studied for two of the nations under study – short-term employment was boosted by 95 job years in China and 28 job years in Poland for every $1million invested. For India, hydropower was best for short-term job creation – boosting employment by 191 job years for each $1 million spent.

Their findings also suggest that for every $1 million invested in green recovery, our atmosphere would be spared up to 3.2 megatons of CO2 depending on the location of investment.

Making new and old buildings environmentally friendly would also significantly strengthen economic output while reducing CO2 emissions, and there are opportunities for all three countries to increase the size and scope of their activities in this area, the report states. The report’s core recommendations for each country are as follows:

  • Prioritise investment in the energy transition, green urbanisation, and ecosystem restoration
  • Accelerate public investment and private investment into green infrastructure and technologies while reforming the green financial sector
  • Formulate implementable action plans to achieve earlier carbon peaking and carbon neutrality.


  • Prioritise investment in electric transport, clean cooking, renewable energy solutions, natural capital, and sustainable agriculture
  • Explore sovereign green bonds, green financial incentives and encourage long-term investment in capacity building at all levels of government
  • Introduce a dedicated task force on green recovery.


  • Prioritise investment in residential energy retrofits, electric vehicles, renewable energy, natural capital, green spaces, and green worker retraining.
  • Secure additional European Commission Just Transition Funds by signing up to a 2050 Net Zero Target
  • Introduce a dedicated task force on green recovery.

A Roadmap to Green Recovery was published by the Economic Recovery Project at the Smith School, University of Oxford in collaboration with Vivid Economics. The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation funded the research with additional support from the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Read the full report:

Notes to editors:

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the University of Oxford press office at or on +44 (0)1865 280528

About the report
A Roadmap to Green Recovery was published by the Economic Recovery Project at the Smith School, University of Oxford in collaboration with Vivid Economics. The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation funded the research with additional support from the ClimateWorks Foundation. There are no known disclosures or conflicts of interest and all ethical standards of the institutions were followed. It was written by Brian O’Callaghan, Nick Kingsmill, Florence Waites, Dan Aylward-Mills, Em Murdock, Julia Bird, Jeffrey Beyer, Paul Roe, Malvina Bondy and Jonathan Aron.

About Oxford University
Oxford University has been placed number 1 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the fifth year running, and at the heart of this success is our ground-breaking research and innovation.
Oxford is world-famous for research excellence and home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. Our work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of our research sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions. Through its research commercialisation arm, Oxford University Innovation, Oxford is the highest university patent filer in the UK and is ranked first in the UK for university spinouts, having created more than 170 new companies since 1988. Over a third of these companies have been created in the past three years.

About Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment
Home to The Oxford University Economic Recovery Project and the Global Recovery Observatory, the Smith School is an interdisciplinary hub of the University of Oxford. It focuses on teaching, research, engagement with businesses and enterprise, and long-term environmental sustainability. OUERP is the world’s hub for developing and communicating long-term economic perspectives on recessionary fiscal spending. The Smith School was founded through a benefaction from the Smith Family Educational Foundation and officially opened in 2008.

About Vivid Economics
Vivid Economics is a leading strategic economics consultancy with global reach. We strive to create lasting value for our clients, both in government and the private sector, and society at large. We specialise in understanding the policy-commerce interface and resource- and environment-intensive sectors. The success we bring to our clients reflects a culture of strong partnerships, the application of ground-breaking analytics and modelling, and an understanding of strategic imperatives and political economy. From our beginnings in 2006, we have become well recognised and trusted in our field and known for our uncompromising quality.

Vivid has an extensive track record in analysing the economic, environmental, and social impacts of policies and public investments, including COVID-19 rescue and recovery packages:

  • Our Green Recovery Roadmap work, including modelling the impacts of announced and alternate recovery measures on the economy and environment of ten countries worldwide, is funded by the ClimateWorks Foundation. We are also working with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, to model further recovery policies.
  • Our flagship ‘Greenness of Stimulus Index’ (funded by the MAVA foundation) assesses the effectiveness of COVID-19 stimulus efforts in ensuring an economic recovery that takes advantage of sustainable growth opportunities and is resilient to climate and biodiversity.
  • We are experts in assessing the economic, environmental and social benefits of government interventions to be included in national strategies, working with Nigeria, Indonesia, Belize, Lebanon, Colombia, Jamaica and others to prioritise policies and investments for inclusion in their intervention plans.
  • We are working with SystemIQ to develop an assessment of the economic and climate mitigation and adaptation impacts of global stimulus packages and assess the benefits of a greater emphasis on investment in nature-based solutions

For more information on Vivid Economics please visit