Two international organizations are recommending reform of fossil-fuel subsidies to improve the economy and the environment.
An analysis by the International Energy Agency (IED) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that governments and taxpayers spent about half a trillion dollars last year supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels and that removing such subsidies would raise national revenues and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
OECD and IEA say fossil fuel subsidies “create wasteful use of energy, contribute to price volatility by blurring market signals, encourage fuel smuggling and lower competitiveness of renewables and energy efficient technologies.”
The G20 leaders in 2009 agreed to phase out subsidies that “encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change”. According to the IEA, since that agreement subsidies for fossil fuel globally have increased by $110 billion to $409 billion in 2010 and could reach $660 billion by 2020 despite the G20 countries commitment.
“As we strive to develop alternatives to oil we must recognize that alternative fuels are not competing on a level playing field,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance. “These massive multi-billion dollar crude oil subsidies completely outweigh current biofuel incentives and are a serious obstacle to the development of cleaner greener alternatives. Oil has a huge competitive advantage financed by global taxpayers.”
Baker notes that the G20 will meet in France next month and the issue of oil subsidies is on the agenda. “It is time for the G20 to show leadership and reverse this practice of never-ending subsidies to big oil,” Baker said. “It is time to move beyond crude oil and into a world with sustainable alternatives such as biofuels and other renewable forms of energy.”