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Published by Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and Oil Change International (OCI)

June 2019

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At a time when tackling the climate crisis requires leadership and strong action from G20 countries, which account for 79% of global emissions, it is imperative that their governments transition away from all fossil fuels, including coal. Yet G20 governments continue to provide billions of dollars for the production and consumption of fossil fuels.

This report finds that G20 governments provide at least USD $63.9 billion per year in government support to the production and consumption of coal alone, with almost three-quarters of the support identified being directed to coal-fired power production. Coal-fired power plants were the single largest contributor to the growth in global CO2 emissions in 2018, and continued G20 government support for coal is incompatible with achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement.

To avoid dangerous climate change and make good on their commitments to end fossil fuel subsidies, the G20 must commit to rapidly ending their support for coal. This report makes the following recommendations:

  • Urgently agree to a complete phase-out of government support to coal mining and coal-fired power.
  • Complete peer reviews of coal and other fossil fuel subsidies by 2020.
  • Establish country-level plans for ending government support to coal; ensuring that mechanisms with the stated aim of assisting the energy transition do not support coal production and consumption, and any remaining support facilitates a just transition for workers and communities, targeting the most vulnerable groups during the energy transition.
  • Establish a standing agenda item in G20 Energy Ministerial meetings to share lessons learned on phasing out government support to coal – and other fossil fuels – and to track progress towards phasing out coal, with support from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other influential organisations.

G20 governments have a clear opportunity to align their fiscal and financial tools and lead the transition away from coal by eliminating subsidies for coal. Continued G20 coal finance is not only locking in a high-carbon economy and leading to stranded assets, but is also a missed opportunity to support a clean energy transition to achieve other sustainable development objectives.

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