Dec. 3, 2012
By Alex Morales
Rich countries spend five times more on fossil-fuel subsidies than on aid to help developing nations cut their emissions and protect against the effects of climate change, the Oil Change International campaign group said.
In 2011, 22 industrialized nations paid $58.7 billion in subsidies to the oil, coal and gas industries and to consumers of the fuels, compared with climate-aid flows of $11.2 billion, according to calculations by the Washington-based group.
The data underline the steps developed nations may be able to take to cut their emissions as ministers from 190 nations meet in Doha to discuss measures to curb global warming. Eliminating the subsidies would reduce incentives to pollute and help rich nations meet their pledge to provide $100 billion a year in climate aid by 2020, said Stephen Kretzmann, the founder of Oil Change International.
“Measures that encourage inefficient use of energy, such as fossil fuel subsidies, must be eliminated,” Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in a statement released by her office in Paris today. “Carbon emissions must be dramatically reduced, and the energy sector must play a key role in this.
The subsidies enable consumers to fuel cars and heat their homes more cheaply. The International Energy Agency estimates they totaled $523 billion last year, mainly from support paid out in developing countries. Production subsidies make it cheaper for oil and gas companies to extract the fuels. Leaders of the Group of 20 nations agreed at a meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009 to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies in the ‘‘medium term.’’
U.S. and European Union envoys in Doha agreed that fossil fuel subsidies should be phased out. The U.S. is pushing the issue meetings of the Group of 20 nations.
‘‘It’s an important issue,’’ said Todd Stern, the lead U.S. State Department official at the talks in Doha. ‘‘There are a lot of entrenched interests. There are different kinds of interests.’’
European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told reporters in Doha she didn’t mind what forum subsidies were discussed ‘‘as long as we start phasing out’’ their use.
Aid is a keystone of climate agreements, and developing nations from Barbados to China have complained in Doha about the lack of transparency surrounding $30 billion of so-called fast- start finance that industrialized nations pledged to pay for the three-year period ending in 2012. They’re also calling for a ‘‘roadmap’’ setting out how the $100 billion goal will be met.
Funding the Problem
‘‘You can’t say you’re serious about fighting climate change until you stop funding the problem,” Kretzmann said in an interview in Doha, where envoys at United Nations climate talks are entering a second week of talks. “It should be possible to phase out producer subsidies and use part of that money for climate finance to help cushion the blow of removing consumption subsidies in developing countries.”
Of the 22 nations examined, Slovenia and Finland paid out more than 50 times in subsidies what they gave in climate aid, the data show. U.S. subsides were the highest at about $13.1 billion, or five times its $2.5 billion of climate aid in 2011.
Full Article Here – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-03/fossil-fuel-subsidies-of-rich-nations-are-five-times-climate-aid.html