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Billions in Annual Taxpayer Subsidies Paid to Fossil Fuel Industry

WWF will attend the G-20 Summit to encourage countries to end the taxpayer-funded subsidies paid to Big Oil and Big Coal.

On June 26-27 in Toronto, Canada, the Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors representing nearly 90 percent of the world’s economy will come together to discuss key issues in the global economy. And the World Wildlife Fund plans to be there to guarantee one commitment from last year’s summit is upheld.

At last year’s G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, the world leaders committed to “phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and increase energy market transparency” and their Energy and Finance Ministers are to “report on their implementation strategies and timelines at the next meeting of the G-20,” which begins in a couple of days.

So will the world leaders stay true to their commitments? Apparently, some countries may be waffling…

The amount of money going to subsidize fossil fuel production and consumption is obscene. According to the WWF, an estimated $500 billion globally goes into these subsidies – an amount that is roughly ten times the annual amount estimated as adequate to meet global Millennium Development Goals for eradicating poverty.

The G-20 views this as a problem and an obstacle for developing clean energy alternatives claiming…

“Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change”.

And promising…

“The G-20 leaders – including representatives from major energy producers and other nations with large subsidies – today committed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over the medium-term while providing targeted support to help the poorest.”

But it seems their promise is degenerating into a debate on how to define fuel subsidies, and the WWF is all over it. Keya Chatterjee, Director of WWF’s climate change program in the US, said in a press release,

“As is clear from the disaster in the gulf, it’s time to make the switch to a clean energy future. Subsidizing dirty, dangerous oil on the backs of struggling taxpayers is outrageous and it will not end our addiction to fossil fuels and it undermines our efforts to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change and ocean acidification.

The American people are struggling to make ends meet and yet they are expected to further line the pockets of Big Oil, Big Coal and the rest of the fossil fuel industry?  We’re talking some of the most profitable companies in the history of the world taking handouts from taxpayers and exploding the federal debt.  It is totally unsustainable and it needs to end now.”

Could it possibly be that part of the $20 billion BP escrow account set aside for damage claims related to the Gulf oil spill is funded by these taxpayer subsidies? Now, that would be utterly shameful.

Follow Cindy Tickle on Twitter @ethicalbiz
Image Credit: pandemia via Flickr under a CC license

Written by Cindy Hoots

With more than 10 years experience working for a major Fortune 500 company, Cindy specializes in socially and environmentally responsible business strategies. She has developed successful corporate communications and stakeholder engagement strategies on contentious sustainability issues and has worked with a number of NGOs and activist organizations on how to effectively partner with multinational companies. Cindy frequently writes about topics ranging from what is corporate social responsibility to sustainable supply chain and measuring a company's environmental impact. She believes business plays a vital role in the health of our communities and our planet.

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