Every year, some $775 billion or more in subsidies around the world go towards fossil fuels. In a time of economic hardship, dangerous climate change, and growing demand for reliable and cleaner sources of energy, these fossil fuel subsidies are a reckless and irrational use of taxpayer money and government investments.
In part recognizing this fact, global leaders from over 50 countries have made public commitments to phase out these subsidies in the “medium term”… but as with many commitments political leaders make, these have gone unfulfilled. Governments are busy hiding their subsidies and feigning activity… while billions of money is wasted and the atmosphere gets filled with greenhouse gas emissions and the planet burns.
There are a few important battles to be waged if we are going to win the fight against fossil fuel subsidies:
- The power of the fossil fuel industry: As we’ve seen time and time again, the fossil fuel industry has a stranglehold on policy makers all around the world… and they love these handouts. We need to break this cycle.
- Lack of information about fossil fuel subsidies. It’s hard to fight what you don’t know – and we don’t have all the information on fossil fuel subsidies. An important step will be to get governments to share information on subsidies.
- Misinformation about the impacts of fossil fuel subsidies. Subsidies, especially in developing countries, are often sold as support for the poor… when in fact they most often benefit the wealthier classes in these countries. Decisionmakers and the public need to understand this better.
- We need more noise! Governments aren’t hearing the global outcry as loudly as they need to feel pressured to act.
Oil Change International is working with our partners around the world to ensure fossil fuel subsidies are phased out as quickly as possible, by pushing for:
- Increased transparency – governments must stop hiding the handouts they give to fossil fuel companies!
- Support for the poor and vulnerable – we need to be sure that poor countries and communities are supported to ensure access to energy while removing these subsidies.
- Global coordination – without a way for the world to coordinate on this effort, countries will continue to drag their heels.
- Phase-out Deadline – we all know that unless you have a deadline, you’re apt to procrastinate. It’s time to set one for fossil fuel subsidy elimination!
To find out more about international fossil fuel subsidies, check out our resources:
- Oil Change International Fossil Fuel Subsidies Fact Page. Facts and figures on international fossil fuel subsidies.
- Phasing Out Fossil-Fuel Subsidies in the G20: A Progress Update. Oil Change International and EarthTrack, June 2012. Our second review of progress in meeting the G20 commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies (an earlier review was published in November 2010) concludes that the G20 effort is currently failing.
- Low Hanging Fruit: Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Climate Finance, and Sustainable Development. Oil Change International for the Heinrich Boll Foundation in association with Vasudha Foundation (India), Greenovation Hub (China) and the Natural Resources Defense Council, June 2012. This report provides updated estimates of global fossil fuel subsidies and overviews many of the issues surrounding subsidy removal. The figure for production and consumption subsidies is at least $775 billion annually and could be $1 trillion or even more. There is an urgent need for transparency in subsidy reporting.
- G20 Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Phase Out: A review of current gaps and needed changes to achieve success. Oil Change International and EarthTrack, November 2010. This report reveals large gaps in the reporting of subsidies by G20 countries and that no new actions have been taken by G20 nations as a result of their commitment in Pittsburgh to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
- www.ShiftTheSubsidies.org: See how much money international development banks are sending to the fossil fuel industry in developing countries through the Shift the Subsidies database.