OECD Environment Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies on environmental issues prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal authors are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language English or French with a summary in the other if available.


The long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery measures on environmental pressures

A quantitative exploration

This paper analyses the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated government responses on the environment. It uses large-scale modelling to investigate the impact of sectoral and regional shocks to the economy until 2040. These detailed economic impacts are linked to a range of environmental pressures, including greenhouse gas emissions, emissions of air pollutants, the use of raw materials and land use change. The short-term reductions in environmental pressures are significant: in 2020, energy-related greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions dropped by around 7%. Environmental pressures related to agriculture observed a smaller drop in 2020. The reduction in the use of non-metallic minerals, including construction materials, reached double digits. From 2021, emissions are projected to increase again, gradually getting closer to the pre-COVID baseline projection levels as growth rates recover fully. But there is a long-term – potentially permanent – downward impact on the levels of environmental pressures of 1‑3%.

English Also available in: French

Keywords: air pollution, COVID-19, climate change, materials use, general equilibrium, land use change
JEL: O44: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity / Environment and Growth; Q54: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming; D58: Microeconomics / General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium / Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models; Q53: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
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