G20 fossil fuel subsidies four times higher than renewables support

fossil fuel subsidies

Creative Commons: Damian Gadal, 2008

Despite their repeated pledges to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, G20 countries – which produce about three-quarters of global emissions collectively – are still pouring nearly four times more support into coal, oil and gas than renewable energy gets globally, a new report shows.

The G20 countries hand out $452 billion per year to fossil fuel companies for production alone, with renewables receiving just $121 billion, says the report, entitled ‘Empty promises: G20 subsidies to oil, gas and coal production’, from the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International.

This continue support stands in stark contrast to their pledge, and come despite clear analysis warning that three quarters of current fossil fuel reserves have to be left in the ground if the world is to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

It also stands in stark contrast to the economic analysis that point towards declining returns in coal and new hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves.

Shelagh Whitley, of the Overseas Development Institute, said:

G20 governments are paying fossil fuel producers to undermine their own policies on climate change. Scrapping these subsidies would rebalance energy markets and allow a level playing field for clean and efficient alternatives.

As G20 leaders meet this weekend in Turkey, they have a chance to finally put their words into action and follow where institutions, cities and celebrities are leading by pulling public money out of dirty, expensive and failing fossil fuels and setting a 2020 deadline for a full phase-out.

The G20 nations can focus their resources instead on boosting growing, affordable and clean renewables, and on delivering their fair share of the climate finance promised to smaller economies.

This would accelerate the clean energy transition and bring the global climate change agreement due to be signed in Paris in December significantly closer.

Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, said:

Continuing to fund the fossil fuel industry today is like accelerating towards a wall that we can clearly see. G20 leaders need to slow down and turn us around before we hit climate disaster.

G20 heads can also seize the opportunity at their meeting to support calls for a long-term decarbonisation goal and a mechanism to review and ramp up climate pledges every five years in line with this goal as part of the Paris agreement.

If they do so, they will have taken a major step towards a safer, fairer, healthier, cleaner future for the planet.

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