(Bloomberg) --

The European Commission’s $824 billion economic recovery package comes with big, green strings attached: To access the funds, European Union member-states will need to show that their investment is in line with the ambitious objective of the Green Deal to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions.

“With the new package we also commit to do no harm with regard to our climate ambitions,” EC Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said Thursday. “What we do should help us fulfill these ambitions and should not go in the other direction.”

The package, the world’s greenest pandemic bailout, still needs to be approved by the bloc’s 27 members, but it would promote a clean link that was missing in many national Covid-19 bailouts despite encouragement from the commission. It is, by way of example, almost the opposite of the American bailout, which Republicans insisted should help floundering fossil fuel companies and not do much of anything to fight global warming.

Recent airline bailouts meanwhile were a mixed bag. France’s 7 billion-euro ($7.7 billion) aid for Air France-KLM has greenish strings attached, such as requiring the carrier to eliminate short-haul routes covered by high-speed trains. By contrast, the Italian government’s 3 billion-euro support plan targeting Alitalia had no such conditions, nor did Germany’s 9 billion-euro bailout of Deutsche Lufthansa.

Under the EU plan, much of the new funding will go to emerging technologies that would have sounded like science fiction in the recent past. To get a glimpse of the near future, Bloomberg spoke to four pioneers in clean industries from home renovations to electric vehicle charging about their hopes and fears as they prepare to go mainstream.

Of course, the future isn’t all rosy. The world’s most important annual climate gathering, already postponed in April due to the pandemic, has been  delayed until November 2021. 

In the meantime, we’re still living with the increasingly catastrophic consequences of our rapidly warming planet. 

After the hottest winter on record, the Russian spring has yielded a Siberian heatwave that’s reigniting fires smoldering since last year.

The region has seen unusually warm weather this month, with temperatures in some parts of the Arctic as much as 16 degrees Celsius higher than the usual, according to Russia’s federal meteorological service.

High temperatures and low precipitation have dried out vegetation sooner than normal, leading to wildfires in boreal forests, with some blazes starting in March and stretching into May. 

Forests globally are becoming younger and shorter because of deforestation and climate change, reducing biological diversity and stunting their ability to store atmospheric carbon.

Rising global temperatures, clear-cutting, wildfires and climate change-driven insect infestations are leading to more trees dying and fewer trees growing old across the globe, according to the research in the journal Science. This creates an ecological imbalance that prevents forests from storing carbon dioxide.

India, meanwhile, is preparing for swarms of desert locusts to arrive just before planting season. As many as 700 tractors, 75 fire engines and almost 50 other vehicles are engaged in spraying pesticides to kill the pests, Trilochan Mohapatra, director general of the state-run Indian Council of Agricultural Research in New Delhi, said on Tuesday. Drones will also be employed.

The U.S. this week was hit by the second named storm of the 2020 season, ahead of the official June 1 start of hurricane season. Tropical Storm Bertha made landfall just east of Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday before weakening to a tropical depression. 

This is the record sixth year in a row Atlantic storms have formed before the season has officially begun. Most preseason forecasts call for an over-active Atlantic season surpassing the long-term average of 12 systems.

Josh Petri writes the Week in Green newsletter recapping the best reads and key news in climate change and green solutions.

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