G20 subsidising fossil fuels four times more than renewables

12 November 2015
By Jack Loughran
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The UK was found to be the only G7 country that was actually increasing its fossil fuel subsidies

The UK was found to be the only G7 country that was actually increasing its fossil fuel subsidies

G20 member countries spend nearly quadruple the amount of money on fossil fuel subsidies in comparison to renewables according to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

In a report, the think-tank said that $452bn (£297bn) was given to support fossil fuels against just $121bn that went to renewable energy sources.

The report said that these funding decisions increase the difficulty of reducing greenhouse gas emissions which slows climate change.

"G20 governments are paying fossil fuel producers to undermine their own policies on climate change," the ODI's Shelagh Whitley said in a statement.

"Scrapping these subsidies would rebalance energy markets and allow a level playing field for clean and efficient alternatives."

Although the G20 countries backed calls to phase out fossil fuel subsidies at meetings in 2009 and 2014, the ODI believes that not enough progress has been made.

It urged them to adopt timelines for phasing them out and transferring the financial support to greener forms of energy.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd recently admitted that the UK is lacking in policies that will help it meet EU renewable energy targets after it cut support for green energy subsidies in the summer.

The World Trade Organization has said that subsidies to oil and coal among G20 countries include direct payments such as grants, loans and equity, tax credits and price supports.

The report noted that the fossil fuel industry is subsidised through a number of avenues, nearly $78bn a year was spent by the G20 on national subsidies, an additional $286bn was given in state-owned company investments and other public finance support was valued at $88bn.

Russia provided the highest subsidies among the countries, providing almost $23bn a year.

The UK was the only G7 nation (which also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US) that was found to be increasing its support for the fossil fuel industry by providing more tax breaks and industry support in 2015 for companies extracting from the dwindling supplies of the North Sea oilfields.

Despite calls by US president Barack Obama to scrap fossil fuel subsidies, the world's largest economy spent more than $20bn in national subsidies, the report said.

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