Dirty Energy Subsidies Still 5x More Than Pledged Climate Aid, Activists Ask #WTF?

Dirty Energy Subsidies Still 5x More Than Pledged Climate Aid, Activists Ask #WTF?
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Oil Change International released a briefing paper today at COP19 in Warsaw revealing that subsidies lavished on the fossil fuel industry by wealthy industrialized nations add up to more than five times the amount of climate finance aid the same countries have so far pledged to deliver to poorer nations to reduce their global warming emissions and adapt to manmade climate change.

Despite the fact that industrialized countries have pledged to scale up to $100 billion in annual climate aid by 2020, they are still pumping more money in the opposite direction, subsidizing fossil fuels production and consumption instead of helping the developing countries adapt and mitigate against climate change impacts. 

The G-20 has unanimously supported phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies since 2009, and re-affirmed its commitment to doing so this fall, so there is no reason for this disconnect to persist, other than the powerful grip that the oil and coal industries have over many of these governments currently.

Oil Change International’s website summarizes this backwards approach:

In an effort to provide shorter term resources and build frameworks for climate finance, developed countries had collectively committed to $30 billion of “fast-start” climate finance from 2010 through 2012. Based on self-reported data compiled by the Open Climate Network, these countries slightly exceeded their commitment, contributing $35 billion of climate finance over the three years – an average of $11.7 billion per year.

However, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 2011 fossil fuel subsidies in these same countries totaled more than $58 billion, more than five times greater than average annual climate finance over the fast-start period. This massive expenditure of taxpayer money to bolster the oil, gas, and coal industries continues more than four years after G20 member countries pledged to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

Stephen Kretzmann, the founder of Oil Change International, told Bloomberg Businessweek

The world is in a deep hole with climate change, and the first thing to do in a hole is to stop digging. Governments are not only still digging, they’re still spending at least five times more in taxpayer support to dig more than they are to climb out.”

In an unrelated but congruous event yesterday at the national stadium where COP19 is taking place, activists staged a protest they dubbed #WTFWhere is the Finance – to demand accountability from countries that have failed to deliver on pledged climate finance.

Climate Finance & Fossil Fuel Subsidies Stunt at COP19, Warsaw (20/11/2013)
#WTF protest at COP19, image courtesy of Climate Action Network Europe via Flickr (photo: Al Kinley / Oxfam)

Here is a chart demonstrating the disparity between climate finance commitments and fossil fuel subsidies, from the Oil Change briefing:

Image credit: Subsidies via Shutterstock

Dirty Energy Subsidies Still 5x More Than Pledged Climate Aid, Activists Ask #WTF?
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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