£3.3 trillion fossil fuels subsidies by G20 countries since Paris Climate Agreement

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Posted Aug 11 2021 by Tim Padmore of Shift Our Subsidies
£3.3 trillion fossil fuel subsidies

All governments, including the UK, are telling us that they’re laser-focused on reducing carbon emissions. How are they doing? The chart above shows how they’re doing (source: Our World in Data). There’s a tiny flatline around 2020, but that’s because of the Covid lockdowns.

We have to stop burning fossil fuels and leave them in the ground. But with the current economy, and global scramble for resources, backed up by military force, it ain’t gonna happen. It looks as though, in a corporate-dominated, growth economy, no fossil fuels are going to be left unburnt. The catasrophic tar sands extraction and fracking industries have subsided for the moment, with the fall in demand and price of oil, but they’ll be back once they’re profitable again.

Kwasi Kwarteng was on Radio 4 on Monday, explaining how the UK has managed to ‘decouple’ economic growth and carbon emissions. Well, Kwasi, have a look at the chart above. Something’s not right about your statement, is it? I’m guessing that a lot of Western governments will claim the same thing, as their manufacturing base declines, but their consumption increases – of goods produced on the other side of the world and then transported across land, sea and air via fleets of trucks, planes and cargo ships.

But it’s much, much worse than that – governments are massively subsidising the fossil fuels industry, as ShiftOurSubsidies.org explain below (and here’s their latest newsletter, with more info and ways you can get involved).

Recently, Bloomberg NEF and Bloomberg Philanthropies produced a report on the scale and impact of global fossil fuel subsidies. It found that in the four years after the Paris Climate Agreement G20 members gave more than £3.3 trillion in subsidies for fossil fuels.

It found that the UK provided $93 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in that period, an average of $18.5 billion per year. Although the UK reduced its support for fossil fuels in that period by 18%, it was still $262 per person in 2019, relatively high compared with other G20 nations.

“On paper, global leaders and governments are recognising the urgency of the climate challenge and the G20 countries have all made ambitious commitments to scale down fossil fuel development and transition to a low-carbon economy.  But, in reality, the action taken by these countries up until this point is a far cry from what is needed. As a host of climate emergencies intensify around the world, the continued development of fossil fuel infrastructure is nothing short of reckless. We need more than just words – we need action.” – Antha Williams, the environment lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Read the report here BNEF-Climate-Policy-Factbook_FINAL.pdf (bbhub.io)

In a climate emergency, the UK Government is spending billions of pounds each year propping up the fossil fuel industry at home and overseas. This is driving up carbon emissions.

The Covid-19 health and economic crisis could make this situation even worse as governments decide on whether to spend trillions on rescue packages for fossil fuel and high-carbon industries as well as on stimulus packages to re-start their economies.

It is essential that the UK Government takes this opportunity to ‘build back better’ by giving no ‘no-strings’ bailouts of fossil fuel and high-carbon industries and by ensuring that stimulus packages are geared to investing in the zero-carbon economy.

We demand that the UK Government tells the truth about its fossil fuel subsidies and shifts taxpayers’ money from fossil fuels and industrial-scale bioenergy (from land-use change) into energy efficiency, non-emissive renewable energy, public transport and nature restoration. The UK Government also needs to show leadership in COP 26 and other international meetings to advocate and support urgent international action to be taken to end fossil fuel subsidies.