When we talk about the Great Energy Shift to a shiny green future, keep in mind that there’s plenty of green bankrolling the dirty power past. That point was driven home yesterday by the release of a report detailing the extent governments subsidize fossil fuels.
Global subsides for fossil fuels paid to companies and individuals reached more than half a trillion dollars in 2011, the latest year full data was available, according to an analysis from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a UK-based nonprofit that advocates rolling back such incentives.
In the 11 wealthy nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, ODI estimates subsidies for fossil fuels range from $55 billion to $90 billion annually. In 2011, that figure reached $74 billion, or $112 for every person. No coincidence that the G20 group of nations accounted for 78% of the world’s carbon spew in 2010.
“While governments have pledged to avoid dangerous climate change, their approach to fossil fuel support is taking economies in the other direction,” states the report, issued days before world leaders gather in Warsaw for the latest round of climate change talks. “Instead of raising the price of carbon emissions, they are subsidizing firms to over-produce and consumers to over-use carbon-intensive fuels.”