Fossil fuel subsidies vs renewables: WTF?
Check out this article from the Guardian. We all know that the fossil fuel industries continue to be subsidized but did you have any idea of just how much money the oil, gas and coal industries are receiving from governments the world over? It’s a lot.
In fact, the International Energy Agency estimates that fossil fuel industries receive 5 times the subsidies than those received by renewable energy companies. To quote the Guardian article:
It’s worth pausing for a moment to take in the sheer amount of money we’re talking about here: more than half a trillion dollars in 2008 (when energy prices hit record highs), equivalent to the total GDP of Sweden or Saudi Arabia. The figure was lower in 2010, but so far there’s no obvious sign of a downward trend, seemingly because reductions in subsidies in some countries have been offset by rising energy prices, which can ratchet up the cost of the remaining subsidy schemes.
It seems like a no-brainer to eliminate cash giveaways to companies whose products cause global warming. Not only are we not internalizing the environmental costs of fossil fuels, subsidies make fossil fuels artificially cheap thereby encouraging more of them to be consumed. The chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA) has even said that eliminating these subsidies could provide half of the carbon savings needed to stop dangerous levels of climate change.
So why aren’t we doing it? After all, this demand is completely reasonable — so reasonable that the leaders of the big countries have already agreed to it. The G20 promised in 2009 that fossil fuel subsidies would be phased out in the “medium term.” But the political power of the corporate polluters scares them, and so no nation has yet followed through.
In the run up to the Rio +20 Summit in June, 350.org is organizing a campaign to pressure world “leaders” to end fossil fuel subsidies. Sign the petition at www.350.org/rio to lend your support.